NREL Study Shows Renewable Energy Potential in Every State

A new study of renewable energy’s technical potential finds that every state in the nation has the space and resource to generate clean energy.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory produced the study, U.S. RE Technical Potential, which looks at available renewable resources in each state. It establishes an upper-boundary estimate of development potential. Economic or market restraints would factor into what projects might actually be deployed.

The report is valuable for decision-makers and utility executives because it compares estimates across six renewable energy technologies and unifies assumptions and methods. It shows the achievable energy generation of a particular technology given resource availability – solar, wind, geothermal availability, etc. -- system performance, topographic limitations, and environmental and land-use constraints.

The study includes state-level maps and tables containing available land area (square kilometers), installed capacity (gigawatts), and electric generation (gigawatt-hours) for each technology.

"Decision-makers using the study will get a sense of scale regarding the potential for renewables, and which technologies are worth examining," said NREL’s Anthony Lopez, a co-author of the study. "Energy modelers also will find the study valuable."

“This is intended to be a living document,” NREL’s Donna Heimiller, another co-author, added. “We’ll be frequently updating the information as we get more data.”