Clean Technologies and Environmental Policy

, Volume 21, Issue 9, pp 1809–1827 | Cite as

Renewable resources of the northern half of the United States: potential for 100% renewable electricity

  • Rahim KhoieEmail author
  • Kyle Ugale
  • James Benefield
Original Paper


We previously presented a model for deep penetration of renewables in the electricity sector of the southern half of the United States (Khoie and Yee in Clean Technol Environ Policy 17(4):957–971, 2015). In this paper, we present a strategy for the northern half of the United States to utilize its available renewable resources to gradually decrease its reliance on fossil fuels in electricity generation and develop energy portfolios with increasing share of renewables. Using the electricity generation data from the US EIA (Electricity, electric power monthly, 2019d., and the renewable resource maps produced by NREL (Geospatial data science, 2018a.; Geospatial data science, 2018b., we develop strategies for the states in the northern half of the USA. We group these states into seven regions: West Coast, Mountain States, Middle West States, Lake States, Mid-Atlantic, South Atlantic, and New England states. For each region, we determine when and if the electricity generation from renewables will meet the region’s electricity need while accounting for a 1% annual increase in electricity demand. The renewable resources included in our models are solar (rural, urban, and rooftop photovoltaic), wind (onshore), hydro, biomass, and geothermal which vary greatly from region to region. We also include nuclear, coal, natural gas, and petroleum. Our results show that the West Coast, Mountain, and Middle West regions have the potential to become 100% renewable in the years 2041, 2039, and 2038, respectively. Additionally, our results show that the four regions of Lake, Mid-Atlantic, South Atlantic, and New England states may not be able to produce 100% of their electricity demand from their renewable resources.

Graphic abstract


Electricity generation from renewables US renewable resources Northern United States 



  1. Adler J (2011) Heat expands all things: the proliferation of greenhouse gas regulation under the Obama administration. Harvard J Law Public Policy 34:421Google Scholar
  2. De Gouw JA, Parrish DD, Frost GJ, Trainer M (2014) Reduced emissions of CO2, NOx, and SO2 from US power plants owing to switch from coal to natural gas with combined cycle technology. Earth’s Future 2(2):75–82CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Energy In Depth (2017) EIA: U.S. carbon emissions fall again in 2017, ‘mainly’ because of natural gas. Energy in depth: climate and environment. Accessed Apr 2019
  4. Feng K, Davis S, Sun L, Hubacek K (2015) Drivers of the U.S. CO2 emissions 1997–2013. Nat Commun 6:7714CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Hand MM, Baldwin S, DeMeo E, Reilly JM, Mai T, Arent D, Porro G, Meshek M, Sandor D (2012) National renewable energy laboratory. In: Renewable electricity futures study, vol 4. NREL/TP-6A20-52409. Golden, CO. Accessed Aug 2018
  6. Khoie R, Yee V (2015) A forecast model for deep penetration of renewables in the southwest, south central, and southeast regions of the United States. Clean Technol Environ Policy 17(4):957–971CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Khoie R, Ugale K, Benefield J (2018) Renewable resources of the northern half of the United States: a pathway to total renewability? In: Conference proceedings of ASES national solar conference, Boulder, Colorado, August 5–8, 2018Google Scholar
  8. LBL (2016) Electricity markets and policy group. Renewable portfolio standards resources. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Accessed Mar 2018
  9. Lopez A, Roberts B, Heimiller D, Blair N, Porro G (2012) U.S. renewable energy technical potentials: a GIS-based analysis. National Renewable Energy Laboratory., and Accessed Mar 2013
  10. Magazine PV (2019) Washington state’s 100% renewables bill passes both Houses. Accessed Aug 2019
  11. Mai T (2012) Renewable electricity futures study. Volume I: Exploration of high-penetration renewable electricity futures. National Renewable Energy Laboratory. and Accessed Mar 2013
  12. McCarthy J, Copeland C (2016) EPA regulations: too much, too little, or on track? Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. Accessed Mar 2018
  13. Murray Brian C, Maniloff P (2015) Why have greenhouse emissions in RGGI states declined? An econometric attribution to economic, energy market, and policy factors. Energy Econ 51:581–589CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (2018) David Fahey, “Climate change: current and projected impacts on the U.S.,” ASES SOLAR 2018. Pathways to the Renewable Energy Transformation, August 5–8, 2018, Boulder, CO.
  15. National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) (2018a) Geospatial data science. Accessed Aug 2018
  16. National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) (2018b) Geospatial data science. Accessed Aug 2018
  17. Oak Ridge National Laboratory (2018). Accessed Aug 2018
  18. Peters GP, Marland G, Le Quéré C, Boden T (2012) Rapid growth in CO2 emissions after the 2008–2009 global financial crisis. Nat Clim Change 2:2–4CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Statistica (2016) The statistics portal: energy and environment services, electricity, US carbon emissions 1975-2016. Carbon dioxide emissions from energy consumption in the U.S. from 1975 and 2016. Accessed Mar 2018
  20. The Guardian (2010) Global emissions of carbon dioxide drop 1.3%, say international scientists. Accessed Mar 2018
  21. U.S. Energy Information Administration (2010) Annual energy outlook 2010: with projections to 2035. U.S. Department of Energy, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  22. U.S. Energy Information Administration (2017) Environment, U.S. energy-related carbon dioxide emissions. Accessed Aug 2018
  23. U.S. Energy Information Administration (2018) State carbon dioxide emissions data. Accessed Apr 2019
  24. U.S. Energy Information Administration (2019a) Energy explained; electricity in the United States. Accessed Apr 2019
  25. U.S. Energy Information Administration (2019b) State energy data system (SEDS): 1960–2016 (complete). Released: June 29, 2018, Next release: June 28, 2019., then Accessed Apr 2019
  26. U.S. Energy Information Administration (2019c). Oregon state profile and energy estimates. Accessed Apr 2019
  27. U.S. Energy Information Administration (2019d) Electricity, electric power monthly. Accessed Apr 2019

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Electrical and Computer EngineeringUniversity of the PacificStocktonUSA

Personalised recommendations