A new study from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has recognized the western states with the most potential for renewable energy projects. With states’ renewable portfolio standard (RPS) requirements all reaching maturity by 2025 it looks beyond and predicts who will be the renewable energy leaders to come.
The primary renewable energy resources that were investigated were wind power, solar and geothermal. Not surprisingly, Wyoming was listed as one of the top producers of wind power especially when you consider their new wind energy project. Additionally, New Mexico was highlighted as a wind power giant. According to Thomas Stackpole, “By 2025, New Mexico could be producing twice the amount of renewable energy as its required to, meaning it could start selling it to other states.”
Solar power was focused on California, Arizona and Nevada. All three states have prime-quality solar resources and all three states are presently undergoing large-scale building projects that will increase those resources. We could see a doubling or more of the amount of renewable energy produced in each of the above states.
Idaho came out as the top bet for geothermal energy after 2025. The report found that Idaho has underdeveloped geothermal potential and that it could be competitive in California and the Pacific Northwest, especially considering that Idaho does not currently have RPS requirements.
The report has made some big predictions and acknowledged the progress that many western states are making towards renewable energy. The idea that production will increase to the point that neighboring states could import more energy from one another is important for renewable energy proponents; however, there are still formidable obstacles in place.
For instance, the study recognizes that transmission lines are still an issue, particularly for Montana and Colorado. Because renewable production tends to happen best away from urban centers, moving it efficiently is crucial. But hurdles exist as much in the state-level policy and regulatory spheres as the technical realm. To start, energy-consuming states like California will need to change their current policies to allow the importing of renewable energy.
So who are the leaders in the west? Well, as the report suggests, Wyoming, New Mexico, California, Arizona and Nevada appear ready to lead the charge in renewable resources.