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Last year, a Pew Research Center survey revealed that 67% of Americans are in favor of developing alternative energy sources. Similarly, an Eligo Energy survey indicated that 65% of U.S. consumers are prepared to pay a premium for renewable energy.

Scott Zimmerman, the project manager at the Global Oil and Gas Extraction Tracker of Global Energy Monitor (GEM), expressed skepticism about the oil and gas industry's rationale for exploring and developing new fields. "The justifications offered by oil and gas producers do not stand up to scrutiny," he commented. "The scientific consensus is clear: we cannot afford to open new oil and gas fields without risking severe environmental consequences."

Despite these warnings, last year saw significant advancements in the oil and gas sector, with at least 20 fields worldwide reaching the "final investment decision" stage. This stage marks the commitment to proceed with construction and development, leading to the approval of projects that will collectively produce about 8 billion BOE.

By the end of this decade, there is an ambition to approve projects that will quadruple this output, aiming to extract 31.2 billion BOE from 64 fields. Notably, the United States has been at the forefront of sanctioning new oil and gas initiatives over the past two years, according to GEM's analysis.

Before We Start: Types of Renewable Energy Sources

  • Solar Energy

This technology captures sunlight using photovoltaic cells and solar thermal systems, transforming it into electricity or heat. Its scalability ranges from small rooftop setups to extensive solar farms.

  • Wind Energy

Wind energy is harnessed through turbines located onshore and offshore. Technological improvements are making these turbines increasingly efficient and less visually intrusive.

  • Hydroelectric Power

As the oldest form of renewable energy, hydroelectric power generates electricity using the flow of water through dams and river systems.

  • Geothermal Energy

This type utilizes the Earth's internal heat to generate electricity and provide heating solutions, especially effective in geothermally active regions.

  • Biomass Energy

Biomass involves the combustion of organic materials or their conversion into gases or liquid fuels. It offers a renewable substitute for fossil fuels, although its sustainability and impact on carbon emissions are topics of ongoing debate.

Record Year in Renewables For the USA

“We simply are not building enough new transmission to meet the energy demands of this country and to keep up with the ongoing energy transition.”

  • John Hensley, Vice President of Markets and Policy Analysis at ACP

“The U.S. has indeed made significant strides in promoting renewable energy. However, the full potential of the renewable market cannot be realized without substantial reforms to the energy project permitting process. It’s time to reform our permitting system now.”

  • Michael Davin, the Director of Domestic Policy at the National Association of Manufacturers

Last year set a new benchmark for renewable energy installations in the U.S.

Current Trends: In a remarkable achievement, the U.S. installed 33.8 gigawatts of clean energy projects last year, marking a 12% increase from the previous year according to the American Clean Power Association’s latest market report. This growth spanned across sectors like utility-scale solar, wind, and battery power.

However, despite this substantial progress, the U.S. still lags behind the necessary benchmarks to achieve President Biden’s 2050 target for a net-zero emissions economy.

Insights: The majority of new power capacity added last year, which accounted for 77% of all new additions, came from solar, wind, and battery storage. These sources now produce about 16% of the total electricity in the U.S.

Solar power, in particular, saw a significant boost with nearly 20 gigawatts installed last year, up 49% or an additional 6.4 gigawatts from 2022. Energy storage capacity also impressed, nearly doubling to about 8 gigawatts with the bulk of installations in California and Texas.

In 2023, the U.S. solar industry hit a new high by adding 32.4 gigawatts (GW) of solar capacity, making up over half of all new additions to the electric grid for the first time.

A report from the Solar Energy Industries Association and Wood Mackenzie shows a 51% increase in solar capacity compared to 2022, driven by a national push towards cleaner energy and boosted by supportive tax credits.

Growth was seen across the board—from residential setups to commercial projects and large utility-scale systems, as well as in solar panel manufacturing. This expansion brought the total U.S. solar capacity to 177 GW. Looking forward, the forecast is even more promising: it's expected to reach 673 GW by 2034. At that level, solar power could provide electricity to over 100 million homes, showcasing solar energy’s crucial role in shaping America’s energy future.

Combined with hydropower, renewable sources like solar and wind contributed to 21.6% of the total electricity generated last year. Yet, natural gas continues to dominate, supplying 43.1% of the U.S. electricity.

Why This Growth: The expansion in clean energy installations is mainly driven by the reduced costs of solar panels and modules, thanks to a global oversupply.

Challenges Ahead: Despite the encouraging developments, significant hurdles remain, particularly in building the infrastructure necessary to support a growing renewable sector. There are at least 22 high-voltage transmission projects currently underway in the U.S., but the pace of building connections for new renewable power sources is proving to be a bottleneck.


Oil and Gas Investments – Does It Make Sense Anymore? 

Renewables are now cheaper than fossil fuels in many parts of the world.

Investing in oil and gas is increasingly seen as a risky idea. Data from the Global Energy Monitor shows that it takes an average of 11 years for an oil and gas project to transition from discovery to production. Some of the world's largest oil fields take even longer, averaging 17 years to reach peak production. This long lead time implies that investors are not only betting on high demand in the near term but are also speculating that this demand will persist for decades.

Yet, predicting long-term energy market trends is fraught with uncertainty. Renewable energy sources like solar and wind are expanding at an exponential rate, driven by technological advancements and geopolitical shifts towards energy independence, particularly in nations without fossil fuel resources. These factors are rapidly reducing the cost of clean energy, making it more competitive and likely to decrease the demand for fossil fuels sooner and more dramatically than investors might anticipate.

The era of easy oil is over. In regions where oil was once easy to extract, reserves are nearly exhausted or actively being depleted. Newer extraction methods like fracking have temporarily extended the life of some oil fields, but these come with significantly higher costs than traditional drilling methods. In Texas, for example, the scarcity of prime drilling locations has forced companies to resort to less desirable Tier Two and Tier Three sites.

Drilling in remote and challenging environments such as the Arctic or deep offshore is proving even more costly. Traditional investment wisdom—buy low, sell high—seems to be ignored by today’s fossil fuel investors who are buying at high costs with hopes of selling even higher.

Investors must also consider substantial legal and regulatory risks. Oil companies face increasing litigation, much like the tobacco industry faced in the 1990s, over their role in climate change. Municipal and state lawsuits argue that these companies have misled the public about the effects of climate change, potentially leading to massive liabilities.

On top of these challenges, the profitability of the fossil fuel industry heavily depends on government subsidies. In the last year, the fossil fuel sector received an estimated $7 trillion in subsidies globally. In the U.S., specific tax breaks allow many oil producers to deduct 15% of their total income from taxes.

Interesting fact: the economic case for renewable energy is strengthening. The cost of solar panels has dropped by more than 99.7% over the last fifty years, from nearly $126 per watt to just 26 cents. 

Oil and Gas Industry Dynamics

The oil and gas sector is primarily led by national oil companies (NOCs) and international oil companies (IOCs) such as Saudi Aramco, ExxonMobil, and Royal Dutch Shell. These companies, especially NOCs, often hold control over the lion's share of reserves, particularly in the Middle East which continues to be the heartbeat of global oil production. Other key areas influencing the world's oil supply include the United States and regions like offshore Brazil and the North Sea. 

The renewable energy sector is undergoing a rapid transformation, fueled by a mix of sources including solar, wind, hydro, geothermal, and biomass. This expansion is largely motivated by the pressing need for sustainable and environmentally friendly energy solutions in the face of global climate challenges.

The Future of Energy: Renewable Energy Technologies

Battery Storage

Developments in lithium-ion batteries and new frontiers like solid-state and lithium-sulfur are crucial. They’re boosting energy storage capacity, cutting costs, and lengthening battery life, making renewables like solar and wind more consistent and grid-friendly.

Advanced Solar Panels

Solar power is seeing rapid improvements with the advent of technologies like perovskite solar cells and bifacial panels. These advancements not only enhance solar efficiency but also reduce costs significantly. The emergence of lightweight, flexible solar panels opens up new possibilities for integrating solar technology into everyday surfaces.

Offshore Wind Turbines

The offshore wind industry is pushing boundaries with bigger and more efficient turbines and floating technologies. These innovations allow for wind farms in deeper waters where winds are steadier and stronger, greatly increasing potential energy output.

Oil and Gas Innovations

Fracking Enhancements

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has transformed the oil and gas sectors by accessing previously unreachable shale gas and tight oil reserves. Innovations in directional drilling and eco-friendlier fracturing fluids are minimizing environmental impacts and boosting extraction efficiency.

Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR)

EOR techniques are breathing new life into aging oil fields. Innovations like CO2 injection increase oil output and aid in carbon capture, aligning older extraction methods with modern environmental standards.

Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS)

CCS technologies are pivotal in reducing the carbon footprint of fossil fuel use. Advances in this area are making it more feasible and cost-effective, crucial for meeting climate goals. Innovations include improved capture techniques and exploring new methods like mineral carbonation for secure storage.

Key Drivers of the Renewable Revolution

  1. Rapid Growth in Renewable Energy Sources 

Solar and wind energy are leading the charge in the global shift towards renewables. Projections show that these sources will dominate new additions to power generation capacity, overtaking fossil fuels and nuclear energy. This growth is supported by their increasing affordability, government policies promoting green energy, and a rising demand for sustainable practices. Advances in technology that help integrate these intermittent energy sources into power grids are making renewables more reliable than ever.

  1. Falling Costs Make Renewables More Appealing 

The plummeting costs of renewable technologies are a game changer. Economies of scale, innovative breakthroughs, and improvements in production processes have reduced the costs of solar panels, wind turbines, and batteries. Today, generating power from solar and wind is often cheaper than traditional fossil fuels in many regions, making renewables an eco-friendly choice and financially smart one.

  1. Big Oil's Green Pivot 

Recognizing the shift in global energy trends, even the largest oil and gas companies are now diversifying their portfolios to include renewable energy. They are applying their vast expertise in project management and engineering to new ventures in offshore wind, solar power, and biofuels. Investments in renewable energy projects and collaborations with technology firms are increasingly common as these giants seek to secure a place in the sustainable world. Innovations like green hydrogen and advanced carbon capture technologies are also on their radar.

Pioneers of the Renewables 

Kinder Morgan

In August 2021, Kinder Morgan made a significant move into the RNG market by acquiring Kinetrex Energy for $310 million. Based in Indianapolis, Kinetrex stood out as the Midwest's leading LNG supplier and a rapidly emerging force in the RNG production and supply sector.

In August 2022, Kinder Morgan further expanded its RNG footprint by acquiring North American Natural Resources Inc. (NANR) and its associated entities, North American Biofuels LLC and North American-Central LLC, for $135 million. These acquisitions were projected to add approximately 2 Bcf of RNG to KMI's annual production. Like previous acquisitions of Kinetrex Energy and Mas CanAm, it was part of company's broader strategy to enhance its role across the entire RNG value chain. With all RNG facilities up and running, the company's total RNG production capacity was expected to hit around 7.7 Bcf per year. Three NANR assets were anticipated to contribute 4.8 megawatt-hours in 2023, further diversifying Kinder Morgan's renewable energy portfolio.

Kinder Morgan is advancing its commitment to renewable energy, targeting an increase in its RNG production to 6.4 billion cubic feet annually by the end of 2024. The company has successfully launched three RNG facilities in 2023 and has plans for another addition in the second half of the year. Furthermore, Kinder Morgan is exploring the potential to repurpose its landfill-gas-to-electricity assets for RNG production.

KMI has allocated $84 million towards its energy transition projects, with a significant 92% of this investment dedicated to RNG development. This investment is distributed over a period and represents a modest portion of Kinder Morgan's total spending, which is predominantly focused on traditional energy infrastructure.

They anticipate that once fully operational, these RNG projects will significantly enhance their financial performance, projecting that the earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization from these projects could increase sixfold.

In January 2024, Kinder Morgan expanded its renewable natural gas (RNG) offerings with the start of the Prairie View RNG facility, which became operational on December 20, 2023. Located in Wyatt, Indiana, this facility processes landfill gas from the Prairie View Landfill to produce about 0.8 billion cubic feet (Bcf) of RNG each year.

This addition, along with the earlier completion of the Twin Bridges and Liberty landfill RNG projects in 2023, developed in partnership with one of the top landfill operators in the U.S., increased Kinder Morgan's annual RNG production by roughly 3.9 Bcf.

The RNG produced from these facilities can replace about 28 million gallons of diesel fuel annually, significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions—around 280,000 tons. This achievement aligns with efforts to mitigate climate change impacts, considering methane's high potency as a greenhouse gas, more than 28 times that of carbon dioxide for trapping heat in the atmosphere as noted by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Kinder Morgan's strategy involves capturing methane from landfill biogas and converting it into RNG, renewable electricity, or medium-Btu energy. This integrated approach not only expands the supply of RNG but also supports other organizations in adopting renewable energy solutions to decrease their carbon footprint, emphasizing Kinder Morgan's commitment to environmental sustainability and emission reduction.

Capstone Green Energy

Capstone Green Energy announced that it secured a follow-up order for two of its C1000 Signature Series microturbines, totaling 2 megawatts. Placed by Horizon Power Systems, these turbines were commissioned in the third quarter of 2023 to power a remote natural gas compression facility in Wyoming's Green River Basin to utilize high-pressure natural gas.

Horizon Power, the exclusive distributor for Capstone in Canada, Oklahoma, Arizona, and the Rocky Mountain states, manages a fleet of 15 microturbines. These units have proven highly reliable, maintaining an average of 99% uptime across multiple remote and unmanned sites in Wyoming, even through severe storms.

Capstone Green Energy, based in California, specializes in providing customized microgrid solutions and on-site energy technology systems, catering to a diverse range of energy needs efficiently and sustainably.

Crusoe Energy Systems

Crusoe Energy Systems just kicked off a new partnership with XCL Resources to implement Crusoe's innovative flare mitigation technology in Utah's Uinta Basin. This collaboration involves utilizing Crusoe's Digital Flare Mitigation system to handle 6 MMcf/d of XCL’s gas production in the area.

Crusoe's technology is not just about efficiently using resources; it also has significant environmental benefits. When operating at full capacity, the system is expected to cut CO2 emissions by up to 273,000 tons annually. This reduction is roughly equivalent to removing 60,000 cars from the roads each year.

The initiative is also set to boost the local economy by creating over 100 new jobs in the Uinta Basin. 

ExxonMobil and JERA

ExxonMobil and JERA recently signed an agreement to jointly work on a project that focuses on producing low-carbon hydrogen and ammonia in the United States. The announcement, made by JERA on March 25, details their plans to potentially include JERA in the ownership of a new hydrogen production facility ExxonMobil is building at its Baytown Complex near Houston.

This plant is quite large and is expected to produce about 900,000 tonnes of low-carbon hydrogen every year. Beyond hydrogen, the facility will also be capable of producing more than one million tonnes of low-cararbon ammonia annually.

Another aspect of their agreement is JERA's potential purchase of approximately 500,000 tonnes of ammonia each year from this facility, which they plan to use to meet the demand in Japan. 

Nopetro Renewables

Nopetro Renewables, a subsidiary of Nopetro Energy that focuses on RNG and biofuels, has started construction on a new RNG production facility in southern Florida. Announced in a press release on March 27, the project is located in Indian River County, southeast of Orlando.

The project, named the Vero Beach Nopetro Eco District, comes with an investment of $40 million and is poised to initially produce 3 million gallons of RNG annually. The facility is designed to convert landfill gas into RNG and is expected to be operational by early 2025.

Once complete, the facility could supply up to 80% of the annual natural gas needs of Indian River County, demonstrating a substantial impact on local energy resources.

rPlus Energies

On March 6, renewable energy developer rPlus Energies announced a major expansion of its Green River Energy Project in Utah, thanks to an updated power purchase agreement with PacifiCorp. The project's budget surpasses $1 billion and it's set to become one of the largest solar-plus-storage systems in the U.S.

Originally planned with a battery storage capacity of 400 megawatt hours (MWh), the project will now boast an impressive 1,600 MWh. Construction is slated to begin in the second quarter of 2024.

Canadian Solar + Sol Systems

Canadian Solar formed a partnership with Washington D.C.-based Sol Systems to step up solar module production in the U.S. This collaboration aims to enhance the manufacturing of solar energy components domestically.

As part of this partnership, Canadian Solar will supply its advanced N-Type TOPCon (Tunnel Oxide Passivated Contact) solar modules from its Texas manufacturing facility directly to Sol Systems. This deal supports Sol Systems' current projects, which include more than 2 gigawatts (GW) of solar projects valued at over $2 billion.

Amshore Renewable Energy

In 2023, Texas continued to expand its leadership in energy, becoming the top state for new solar installations with 6.5 gigawatts added. Now, over half of the states in the U.S. have at least 1 GW of solar capacity installed.

Amshore Renewable Energy announced on March 27 that it has secured around 1,500 acres in Texas for a significant new project: the Route 66 Solar + Battery Project. This initiative aims to combine solar power generation with battery storage.

The project plans to connect to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas grid and the Southwest Power Pool markets. It's designed to generate between 150 MW and 200 MW for each connection. The selected site for this project is particularly suited for solar due to its high solar resource potential, which averages between 5.25 to 5.50 kilowatt-hours (KWh) per square meter per day.

Ormat Technologies

On March 4, Nevada-based Ormat Technologies announced a 30-year power purchase agreement with Electricité de France (EDF). The deal focuses on developing a new geothermal power plant on Guadeloupe, an island in the eastern Caribbean Sea.

This new facility will be built alongside the existing 15-megawatt (MW) Bouillante geothermal power plant but will feature a modern twist. It's designed to be a seawater-cooled binary system that utilizes Ormat’s proprietary energy converters.

Ormat Technologies CEO Doron Blachar shared, “With the addition of the new Bouillante power plant in Guadeloupe and the recent signing of a new 10-MW power plant to be built in Dominica, our total geothermal capacity in the Caribbean region will reach 35 MW by the end of 2025.” 

Renewables by States 

New York

Over half of New Customer’s electricity already comes from clean sources

New York is a great example for the nation with its aggressive push toward renewable energy. By 2030, the state aims to get 70% of its electricity from renewables and achieve 100% carbon-free power by 2040, incorporating both renewable sources and nuclear energy. Impressively, in 2022, these sources together generated 51% of the state's electricity.

The journey started in 2004 with the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), which evolved into the more ambitious Clean Energy Standard (CES) in 2015. This mandated that by 2030, half of all electricity sold by utilities should come from clean energy. The policy was further strengthened in 2019 by the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, aiming for net-zero carbon emissions across the economy by 2050.

Nuclear plants in New York are treated as zero-emission sources. For facilities that can’t fully eliminate emissions, the state allows the purchase of carbon offsets. These must be locally sourced from initiatives like forest management or sustainable agriculture. Notably, New York boasts the lowest per capita carbon emissions in the country.

In terms of specific renewables, hydroelectric power is the heavyweight, contributing significantly to the state's energy mix. Solar energy also plays a growing role, accounting for 4% of total power in 2022. Remarkably, two-thirds of this solar output came from small setups like rooftop panels, backed by incentives like net metering. New York is ranked third nationally for its small-scale solar energy production.

Wind energy, once the state's leading renewable source, now follows solar, making up about 12% of New York's renewable output in 2022. The state has installed over 2,500 megawatts across 32 wind farms and is eyeing further expansion, particularly offshore along the Great Lakes and Long Island, aiming to add at least 9,000 megawatts by 2035 despite some economic hurdles.

Texas

Texas is a leader in wind power, producing over a quarter of the U.S. total

In 2022, renewable resources were responsible for about one-fourth of Texas's in-state electricity generation. The state played a significant role nationally, accounting for 15% of the U.S. total electricity generation from renewables and 29% from non-hydroelectric renewable sources. Texas's prowess in utility-scale wind-powered electricity was particularly notable, as it generated more than a quarter of the nation’s total wind energy.

By early 2023, Texas had amassed over 12,400 megawatts of utility-scale renewable capacity from sources other than wind. Including small-scale solar projects, this figure rose to nearly 14,600 megawatts.

As of February 2023, Texas boasted nearly 40,000 megawatts of wind capacity. This impressive number constituted more than a quarter of the state's total utility-scale generating capacity and almost three-fourths of its renewable capacity, which includes small-scale solar installations.

Texas also ranks high in solar power potential, placing sixth nationwide. In 2022, it was the second-largest producer of solar power in the country, trailing only California. By early 2023, the combined solar PV capacity from both large- and small-scale facilities in Texas exceeded 13,500 megawatts. Solar energy contributed about 5% to the state's total electricity generation for the year, with small-scale solar facilities providing about one-eighth of the solar total.

California

California leads the nation in both solar power and geothermal energy production

California ranks second only to Texas in overall electricity generation from renewable sources. It stands out as the top U.S. producer of solar and geothermal energy. In 2022, the state was also ranked as the second-largest producer of electricity from biomass, behind Georgia, and was fourth in conventional hydroelectric power production, trailing Washington, Oregon, and New York.

Solar power is the heavyweight champion in California's renewable energy lineup. In 2022, it accounted for 19% of the state's utility-scale electricity net generation. Including small-scale solar generation, solar contributed to 27% of the total electricity generation. Remarkably, California produced 31% of the nation's utility-scale and small-scale solar PV electricity and 69% of the country’s utility-scale solar thermal electricity. By the beginning of 2023, California had installed over 17,500 megawatts of utility-scale solar capacity, more than any other state, and nearly 32,000 megawatts when including small-scale installations.

California's ambitious renewable portfolio standard (RPS) was first enacted in 2002 and has been updated several times since. It mandated that 33% of electricity retail sales must come from renewable resources by 2020—a target met three years early. The current RPS sets the goal at 60% by 2030 and aims for a 100% renewable and zero-carbon electricity supply by 2045. As an interim step, the state set a goal of 90% renewable energy by 2035 and 95% by 2040. By 2020, 59% of California's electricity was already being sourced from carbon-free options.

On the biofuel front, California consumes one-tenth of the nation’s fuel ethanol supply, almost eight times more than what its four ethanol plants can produce. The majority of the additional fuel ethanol is sourced from Midwestern states. The state’s biodiesel production is similarly outstripped by consumption, with local production plants only able to supply about one-fourth of the annual demand. Several California petroleum refineries have also started producing renewable diesel from biomass, and in 2021, California accounted for 99% of the U.S. consumption of renewable diesel.

New Mexico

Wind energy dominates New Mexico's renewable sector, contributing 84% of its renewable generation in 2022

In 2019, New Mexico took significant strides to revamp its renewable energy strategy by updating the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) first established in 2004. The updated law sets ambitious targets for investor-owned utilities, requiring them to source 50% of their electricity sales from renewable resources by 2030, escalating to 80% by 2040, and achieving 100% by 2045. Rural electric cooperatives have a slightly extended timeline, with a deadline of 2050 to meet the 100% renewable requirement.

In 2022, renewable sources were responsible for about 42% of all electricity generated within New Mexico from both utility-scale and small-scale facilities. Wind energy was the powerhouse behind this achievement, accounting for 84% of the renewable energy produced and 35% of the state's total electricity generation. The state boasts the largest wind farm in eastern New Mexico, which has a capacity of 522 megawatts, underscoring its pivotal role in the state’s energy landscape.

As of early 2023, New Mexico ranked ninth in the nation in terms of wind capacity, with approximately 4,411 megawatts installed.

Wyoming

Despite lacking a Renewable Portfolio Standard, Wyoming generated 24% of its electricity from renewables in 2022, with wind power leading the way

Wyoming stands out in the U.S. energy scene, not for having a renewable portfolio standard (RPS) or specific renewable energy goals, but for its significant contribution to renewable energy production despite this absence. In 2022, renewable sources supplied 24% of Wyoming's electricity, with wind power making up approximately 90% of this renewable output. Wyoming's geography, particularly in the southeastern part of the state, is ideal for wind energy production. The region's consistent and strong winds funneled through mountain passes onto the high prairies, allow wind farms to operate at high efficiency.

As of early 2023, Wyoming had installed over 3,000 megawatts of wind power capacity, with plans to add another 830 megawatts by 2024. Several large-scale wind projects are either underway or in planning stages, including the massive Chokecherry-Sierra Madre project. This project is set to include around 900 turbines, contributing an additional 3,000 megawatts to the grid between 2027 and 2029.

Wyoming is also strategically developing several major transmission projects. These are designed to transport wind-generated electricity to states like California, which have stringent renewable energy mandates.

Hydroelectric power, although less dominant, still plays a crucial role in Wyoming's energy mix. It accounted for about 2% of the state’s total electricity generation in 2022 and nearly 10% of its renewable generation. The state operates 16 hydropower dams, further diversifying its renewable energy portfolio.

Utah

Solar energy now provides three-fourths of Utah's renewable power

Utah has a set goal for its electric utilities: by 2025, 20% of its electricity should come from renewable sources, but only if it's cost-effective. This strategy is already showing significant progress. In 2022, renewables accounted for 16% of Utah’s electricity, with solar energy leading the charge.

Solar power in Utah, which includes both small rooftop systems and large solar farms, made up about 75% of the renewable energy produced last year. The growth in solar power has been explosive — it was nearly 50 times greater in 2022 than in 2015. By the end of the year, Utah ranked ninth nationwide in solar capacity, with 1,537 megawatts installed.

Geothermal energy also plays a role in Utah's energy mix. The state is one of only seven in the U.S. that generates electricity from geothermal sources. In 2020, geothermal plants in southwestern Utah generated about 7% of Utah’s renewable electricity. Recognizing its potential, the state is looking to expand; in April 2022, the U.S. Interior Department made 32,500 acres available for geothermal development.

Arizona

Arizona is a top-five state for solar electricity generation in the U.S.

Arizona with its sunny climate became a leader in solar energy. Since establishing a renewable energy standard (RES) in 2006, the state mandates that regulated electric utilities source 15% of their electricity from renewables by 2025, with 4.5% specifically from customer-based installations like rooftop solar panels.

The state's largest utility is aiming high with a pledge to supply 100% carbon-free energy by 2050, targeting 45% by 2030. This plan includes a mix of nuclear and renewable sources. Another major utility is on track to achieve over 70% of its power from wind and solar by 2035, showing a strong shift toward renewable energy.

In 2022, renewables generated 17% of Arizona's total electricity, with solar power contributing nearly 60% of that renewable energy. The rise of solar has been significant: solar installations surpassed hydroelectric power in 2017 as the primary source of renewable energy. By 2022, solar accounted for about 10% of Arizona's overall electricity generation.

Arizona ranks among the top states for solar potential and installation, with more than 5,483 megawatts of capacity from both large and small-scale solar setups. It was the fifth-leading state for solar generation in 2022, behind heavyweights like California and Texas, with large-scale facilities driving most of the production, complemented by significant contributions from residential solar panels.

Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island

Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island are collaborating to significantly enhance their offshore wind energy capabilities. This marks the first time three states have joined to purchase power collectively, aiming to reduce costs by encouraging the development of large-scale projects. Their combined goal aligns with the U.S. target of achieving 30 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind capacity by 2030.

Massachusetts plans to contribute 3.6 GW, Rhode Island aims for 1.2 GW, and Connecticut targets up to 2 GW. Their efforts have attracted interest from major energy sector players.

Iberdrola Group’s Avangrid is a key participant, announcing on March 27 proposals for its New England Wind project located off Massachusetts. This project consists of two phases: New England Wind 1, formerly known as Park City Wind, with a capacity of 791 megawatts (MW), and New England Wind 2, offering 1,080 MW. Located near the existing Vineyard Wind 1, these projects are expected to provide power to about 1 million homes and bring an estimated $8 billion in direct investments. New England Wind 1 is expected to begin operations by 2029.

Ørsted is also involved, proposing its Starboard Wind project aimed at generating enough power for over 600,000 homes from its location offshore Rhode Island. If selected, this 1,184-MW project would result in over $1.1 billion in direct investments.

Colorado

Colorado stands seventh nationwide in wind power capacity

In 2004, Colorado became the first state to establish a voter-approved renewable portfolio standard (RPS). This pioneering move set a goal for investor-owned utilities to source 30% of their electricity from renewable energy by 2020, with 3% from distributed, small-scale generation.

Colorado's vast wind energy resources on its eastern plains and mountain crests have propelled it to seventh in the nation for installed wind power capacity. Wind energy use in the state has quadrupled since 2010. In 2022, a new wind project added 145 megawatts, pushing Colorado's total wind capacity to 5,136 megawatts. Another 380 megawatts are expected to be operational by the end of 2024.

The state is also making significant strides in solar energy, particularly in the sunny southern regions near the New Mexico border. In 2022, Colorado ranked eleventh among states for utility-scale solar capacity, with 1,294 megawatts installed. Plans are in place to boost this capacity by an additional 1,722 megawatts by the end of 2024. Small-scale solar installations, such as rooftop solar systems, continue to grow and made up about two-fifths of the state's total solar output in 2022.

In Colorado, the hydraulic fracturing process, or fracking, consumes the majority of water used by the oil and gas industry. This method involves injecting a mixture of freshwater, sand, and chemicals at high pressure into underground wells to fracture the rock and release oil and gas. On average, it takes about 15 million gallons of water to frack a single well. Afterward, the water becomes contaminated, turning into what is known as "produced water," a type of toxic waste.

While some oil and gas companies in Colorado, particularly on the Western Slope, have started recycling this contaminated water, in the Denver-Julesberg Basin, which is the state's most significant oil field, most of the polluted water is permanently disposed of. 

The backdrop to these industry practices is a broader context of shifting energy policies and growing environmental concerns in Colorado. The state ranks among the top ten in the U.S. for oil and gas production and has made substantial advances in renewable energy use, with renewables now comprising 37% of its total electricity generation as of 2022. These efforts include a variety of state and local initiatives aimed at transitioning away from fossil fuels and enhancing energy efficiency through the use of wind and solar power, battery storage, and other measures.

As the state aims for significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, the oil and gas industry, represented by figures like Haley and Kait Schwartz of API Colorado, asserts that it is investing heavily in cleaner and safer technologies to meet Colorado's environmental goals. These initiatives are part of the state's Greenhouse Gas Pollution Reduction Roadmap, which targets a reduction in emissions of 26% by 2025, 50% by 2030, and 90% by 2050 from 2005 levels.

Wrapping Up

The opportunities to innovate and improve are boundless, and the time to act is now. Let's energize the future together.

The energy sector is on the edge of something big. We're seeing innovative technologies, a growing commitment to renewable energy, and a shift in how traditional oil and gas industries approach sustainability.

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Renewable energy

Renewable Efforts Lag as Global Oil and Gas Demand Continues to Rise

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Recently, the progress toward an energy transition is hitting a snag. Sales of electric vehicles are decelerating, and the growth in wind and solar power needs to be keeping pace with expectations. To make matters more challenging, electricity prices are climbing when they were expected to fall. Amidst these setbacks, the oil and gas sectors are proving resilient. According to BP's latest energy outlook, not only are these energy mainstays here to stay, but their demand is expected to remain relatively high even after reaching a peak. Interestingly, BP forecasts that oil demand will reach its zenith next year, marking a critical moment in energy consumption trends. This isn't the first time BP has projected a peak in oil demand. Back in 2019, their review anticipated a decline in demand growth, but the prediction fell flat. Instead, oil demand surged to unprecedented levels following the end of the global pandemic lockdowns, defying previous forecasts and underscoring the enduring dominance of traditional energy sources in the global market.

Renewable Energy and Decarbonization: From Renewable Diesel to Electrofuel, Biofuel and Geothermal Power

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Renewable diesel, a cousin to traditional petroleum diesel, stands out as a standalone fuel and a blendable option. In 2022, it accounted for about 8% of all U.S. biofuel production and 9% of its consumption. For decades, diesel has been the stalwart choice for both shippers and carriers, valued for its reliability. Yet, as sustainability becomes a priority, these industries are now navigating the complex world of alternative fuels. This shift has its challenges; the array of choices comes with varying information about availability, cost, performance, and environmental impact. Amidst these options, renewable diesel is gaining traction.

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Recently, the progress toward an energy transition is hitting a snag. Sales of electric vehicles are decelerating, and the growth in wind and solar power needs to be keeping pace with expectations. To make matters more challenging, electricity prices are climbing when they were expected to fall. Amidst these setbacks, the oil and gas sectors are proving resilient. According to BP's latest energy outlook, not only are these energy mainstays here to stay, but their demand is expected to remain relatively high even after reaching a peak. Interestingly, BP forecasts that oil demand will reach its zenith next year, marking a critical moment in energy consumption trends. This isn't the first time BP has projected a peak in oil demand. Back in 2019, their review anticipated a decline in demand growth, but the prediction fell flat. Instead, oil demand surged to unprecedented levels following the end of the global pandemic lockdowns, defying previous forecasts and underscoring the enduring dominance of traditional energy sources in the global market.

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Texas energy companies are picking up the pieces after Hurricane Beryl, an early Category 5 hurricane, hit the U.S. Gulf Coast earlier this week. However, it weakened to Category 1 by the time it made landfall in Texas. The hurricane brought heavy rainfall and sparked fears of storm surges, flooding, and tornadoes. As Hurricane Beryl neared, the natural gas supply to Freeport LNG’s export facility in Texas nearly stopped the day before the storm struck. Houston was particularly hard-hit, with the storm knocking out power for two million residents. CenterPoint Energy, a key power provider in the area, felt the brunt of the hurricane but aimed to have power restored to half the affected customers by the following day.

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The total number of drilling rigs actively exploring and producing oil and natural gas in the United States increased to 585 for the week ending July 5, up from 581 the previous week. Despite this recent uptick, the current count still falls short of last year's 680, indicating a slowdown in drilling activities. Analysts suggest that this reduction may reflect greater efficiency among shale producers, who now require fewer rigs. Nonetheless, concerns remain about whether some producers have enough viable drilling land

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