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Champions and outsiders of renewable energy in USA


When we are looking at the spatial distribution of fossil fuel CO2 emissions in USA, the Eastern US states are burning red on the map. Spaceborne observations have approved that such high emissions have already affected atmospheric concentration of CO2 over the region. Although, population density plays a determining role in forming CO2 distribution patterns across USA, there is another, not less important factor to consider. This factor is a production of renewable energy by a single state. As seen from the map, the cluster of the states with the lowest share of renewable energy almost precisely corresponds to the highly-emitting cluster evidences by geophysical data. Contrary, renewable belt can be found in the northern part of the country fractured by only presence of Michigan and Wisconsin. Vermont has climbed on that green top by cutting power plant emissions by 54% (and it was the very first state to show such cuts). Moreover, currently, more than 10 000 Vermonters are employed in the efficiency, solar and clean-energy sector. In Vermont the political atmosphere, infrastructure of the state and tight interconnections across stakeholders paved the way for the successful energy sector reorganization. From this standpoint, what happened on the opposite side of this ranking where the states with the lowest production of renewable energy are found today. A textbook example of such state is Georgia, the 9th largest producer electricity in America. It was believed that the lagged progress of Georgia in renewable energy can be potentially explained by several malignant factors such as inefficiency of Renewable Portfolio Standards, unfavorable political atmosphere, insufficient renewable resources in the state and conflict with expanding nuclear energy in the state. A recent study about Georgia renewable energy has shown that the primary driver of the lag is a conflict with increased share of nuclear energy across the state. Namely, as study states “Georgia’s current electrical organizational and technical structures reflect the conflicting reappearance of nuclear utilities. As Georgia Power’s focus has been to invest in nuclear energy and their political inclinations have been dominated by a conservative Republican ideology in recent history”. The latter fact makes Renewable Portfolio Standards less feasible in the next years. Therefore, achieving renewable goals across all the states will strongly depend not only on readiness to reduce fossil fuel CO2 emissions by the industry and citizens altogether, but also on the political atmosphere in the state and the existing conflicts in reorganizing energy sector that had been embedded in the state-scale plans at the earlier stages of history. Data from: US Energy Information Administration Plotted by: Lowdowndata Quote from study of: Kerri Metz