Which States Use the Most Renewable Energy?

Solar panels in a Vermont field.
Solar panels in a Vermont field.

Simply explained, renewable energy is energy that is produced from renewable resources, that is, resources that will be restocked by nature after use. For the most part, renewable energy is crucial in four sectors; the heating or cooling of air and water, rural energy supply, transportation, and electricity generation. Renewable sources of energy in the world include biofuel, hydropower, geothermal, wind power, solar energy, and others. In 2017 alone, data shows that 19.3% of the world’s global energy needs were satisfied by renewable energy. In the US, many states are investing in the potential of clean and renewable energy.

States Using The Most Renewable Energy

In 2016, on the subject of US states with the highest use and production of renewable energy, Vermont tops the list with 100% of the total energy production. Idaho is a distant second with 78.6% while Washington is following closely in the third position with 77.1%. Closing up the top five are the states of Oregon (fourth) and South Dakota (fifth) with 70.9% and 70.2% respectively. These figures represent renewable energy including hydropower.

Excluding hydropower, the state of Vermont is also at the top with a production and usage of renewable energy of 44.3% of the total electricity production of 1901GWh. Position two without hydropower is occupied by Maine (38.1%), followed by Iowa (37.1%). South Dakota is fourth with 30.4% while Kansas is fifth with 29.7%. The previously second-placed Idaho drops to 10th (19.6%), while Washington, which was previously third, drops to the twentieth position with only 8.9%.

Vermont is easily at the first position in either scenario because Vermont is a relatively small state which deals with smaller figures of power production and usage. For example, the state produces a total of only 1901GWh compared to 16,011GWh for the state of Idaho or the massive 112,784GWh produced by third-placed Washington. In addition, Vermont has invested heavily in renewable energy such as the 78 dams for generating hydropower, which are estimated to have higher potentials than they are currently producing. Second-placed Idaho is also high up in the list because its landscape is uniquely suited for the production of renewable energy. While it does not have as much fossil fuels as other states, it has some of the best hydropower dams in the US as well as several productive geothermal and wind stations.

In 2015, South Dakota was in the second place compared to 2016’s placement of fifth in the ranking of energy usage and production of renewable energy including hydropower. In 2016, the state’s renewable percentage was 70.2% while in 2015 it was 76.3%. Idaho switched from fourth in 2015 (74.7%) to second in 2016 (78.6%).

Overall Production in the US

Overall, the total production of power in the US increased slightly from 2015 (4,077,601GWh) to 2016 (4,078,670GWh). Renewable energy production including hydropower also improved from 544,241GWh to 609,057GWh.

Which States Use the Most Renewable Energy?

RankStatePercentage of Energy That is Renewable
5South Dakota70.2
13North Dakota26.6
14New York24.6
18New Hampshire16.8
21New Mexico13.9

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