The Politics of Power - Renewable Energy and the Fallacy of the Red/Blue Divide
An article by • Published Oct 26, 2020
In July 2020, three Republican states (TX, OK, IA) generated more wind & solar electricity generation on a trailing-12-month basis than all 20 Democratic states, plus Washington, D.C. combined
Nearly 30% of the Democratic state power stack is generated from renewable power vs 15% for the Republican state power stack, but Red states generate more renewable power than Blue states
Republican states generate just over 50% of all renewable power in the US currently, but 2/3 of all wind and solar power
Texas dominates U.S. wind and solar renewable scene at nearly 25% of U.S. generation, an amount totaling over 70% of all wind and solar generation from Blue states
Its election season in the USA and nothing says America like baseball, apple pie and political divisiveness - including political debate and angst over how Power is produced in this country, in particular renewable energy. Even politicians in states that have embraced renewables can't help but politicize them. Just recently, Texas Congressman Dan Crenshaw - whose state produces more than two times the wind and solar of California - said of solar and wind electricity generation:
“So these things don’t work.....These are silly solutions. They’re no solutions at all.”
Texas Produces Nearly 2.5x the Wind + Solar of California
Wind and solar renewable electricity generation broken down by the 2016 election results shows Red states generating 2/3 of all US wind and solar power. (For the purpose of the rest of this analysis, Red States are the 30 states whose electoral college votes voted Republican in the 2016 election, whereas Blue States represent the 20 states, plus DC that voted Democrat)
Red States Generate 2x the Wind + Solar of Blue States
Just three Red states - Texas, Oklahoma and Iowa - produce more renewable wind and solar power than all Blue states combined.
3 Red States Produce More Wind + Solar Than All Blue States Combined
Renewable Generation By State
The top-20 states by renewables as % generation is an even mix of Red & Blue
Likewise, the top-20 increases to renewables as a percentage of generation mix the last decade are an even mix of Red and Blue states
Generation Mix by Red and Blue States
Red States: since 2001, coal has dropped from 60% to 25% of the generation mix, natural gas increased from 15% to over 40%, nuclear held steady and renewables gained nearly 10% of the power generation stack
Blue States: since 2001, coal has dropped from 30% to 9% of the generation mix, natural gas increased from 23% to over 37%, nuclear held steady and renewables gained 13% of the power generation stack
Renewable Generation Mix
Red State renewable generation is dominated by wind at over 60% of renewable power, followed by hydroelectric at 25% and solar at 9% (difference between 100% due to other renewables).
Blue state renewable generation is dominated by hydroelectric at over 50% of renewable power, followed by wind at 25% and solar 13%
Red states are dominating the wind power markets but the reason likely has nothing to do with ITC/PTC subsidies, differences in regulations or state incentives. What's going on? Look no further than mother nature.
As the Tweet above discusses, Annual Average Wind Speeds at 80 meters are drastically different in the middle of the country. Indeed compare the map of wind speeds below with the EIA map showing planned wind additions, they align quite closely. People build wind farms where the wind is.
Solar generation growth has been consistent across Red and Blue states in recent years, but only represents 4% of Blue state power generation and 3% of Red states.
Red states have reduced coal usage by 70MM MWHrs per month since 2001 versus Blue states reducing coal generation by 18.5MM MWHrs per month. If one wants blame for the death of the coal industry, look no further than Red states.
Red states generate approximately 100MM MWHrs/month from natural gas versus 36MM MWHrs/month from Blue states. Unsurprisingly, Red states are replacing their plummeting coal usage with natural gas-fired generation.
Nuclear power is the slow and steady source of the US power markets with no real change from Red or Blue states the last two decades.
Texas Wind + Solar Generation is > 70% From All Blue States
Texas has 30,217 MW wind capacity, ranking it number one in the US
Texas has nearly 3x the wind capacity of the 2nd largest state Iowa and nearly totals the next four biggest states combined