All 36 states with either renewable energy goals or renewable energy mandates could meet them by relying on in-state renewable fuels, according to an updated report from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. The report also finds twenty-three states could be self-sufficient in electricity from in-state renewables, and another seven states could generate 75 percent of their electricity from homegrown fuels, reports North American WindPower.
The study finds new technologies like smart grids, electric vehicles, distributed storage, and rooftop solar will have their major impact at the local level. As an example, the integration of millions of electric vehicles into the grid will change the context for energy planning by creating, for the first time, abundant storage for electricity, according to the report.
The updated edition, Energy Self-Reliant States (PDF), covers all types of renewable fuels including onshore and offshore wind, solar, small hydro, combined heat and power, and geothermal power.
Key findings reveal that at least 30 U.S. states could satisfy 100 percent of their electricity needs from in-state renewable energy based on the assumption that there is sufficient distributed storage or distributed generation capable of generating on demand, and at least 40 states could satisfy supply half their electricity with domestic renewable resources, according to the report.
The report also indicates that federal policy should encourage all states, communities, individual households and businesses to maximize their internal use of renewable power; however, current federal energy policy primarily focuses on harnessing the renewable energy in a handful of states, constructing extra-high-voltage national transmission network and transporting that energy a thousand or more miles to customers in other regions, reports North American WindPower.
Those promoting a new interregional transmission network argue that even if renewable energy is to be found everywhere, states with more reliable and higher-speed winds or with more abundant sunshine can generate electricity more cost-effectively, reports North American WindPower.
As an example, a typical North Dakota commercial wind turbine can produce electricity at a cost about 30 percent less than one in Ohio, according to the report. But in most cases, these significant variations result in modest variations in the retail cost of energy when the cost of transporting the energy is taken into account, reports North American WindPower.