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States Most Dependent on Coal for Electricity


States Most Dependent on Coal for Electricity

At the recent UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, world leaders convened to negotiate new goals for reducing carbon emissions in the effort to slow the pace of global warming. Across two weeks of negotiations, one of the major issues under discussion was the use of coal as an energy source. Some coal-dependent nations including India and China argued for a “phase down” rather than a total “phase out” of coal power in the final agreement, while U.S. envoy John Kerry predicted in an interview that the U.S. would eliminate it by 2030.

It is one of the cheapest energy sources available in the U.S., in part because the U.S. houses a large portion of the world’s coal reserves. But coal also has other environmental and social downsides that have made it a less desirable fuel source. Mining and burning coal heavily emits greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane and also poses risks of air and water pollution. Many policymakers and environmental advocates are now pushing for a transition away from coal for that reason.

Until recently, however, cost won out, and inexpensive coal was the predominant fuel source in the U.S., accounting for more than half of electricity generation in the U.S. up until 2003. Since then, dependence on coal has plummeted and currently accounts for only 19.3% of total U.S. generation. The swift decline in coal has been made possible as other cleaner energy sources have become less expensive. Natural gas has seen a major boom over the last two decades as techniques like hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling made it easier to extract. Renewable sources like wind and solar have also become less expensive and more widely adopted in recent years thanks to government investment and technological advances. As a result, the share of electricity generated from renewables has risen by two-thirds since 1990.

Some states that have traditionally relied on coal both as an economic driver and as an energy source have been slower to make the transition. The majority of coal production in the U.S. is contained to a handful of states, including Wyoming and West Virginia, and because coal is cheap and plentiful, these heavy coal producers are also among the states that generate the greatest share of electricity from coal and a lower share from renewables. In contrast, the states that depend more heavily on renewables either have governments that have prioritized clean energy and emissions reductions or geographic features that make them well-suited to wind, solar, or hydropower installations.

The data used in this analysis is from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. To determine the states most dependent on coal for electricity, researchers at calculated the share of total electricity generated from coal. In the event of a tie, the state with the greater total electricity generated from coal was ranked higher. Researchers also calculated the total and proportion of electricity generated from renewable sources. Renewable sources include solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, and hydroelectric.

Here are the states most dependent on coal for electricity.

State Rank Share of electricity  generated from coal 5-year change in electricity generated from coal Total electricity generated from coal (MWh) Share of electricity generated from renewables Total electricity generated from renewables (MWh)
West Virginia    1    88.6% -26.2% 50,216,398 6.2% 3,496,285


Wyoming    2    79.4% -22.6% 33,359,104 16.1% 6,763,997


Missouri    3    71.3% -20.8% 51,755,690 7.5% 5,450,572


Kentucky    4    68.7% -39.9% 43,638,313 8.5% 5,395,636


Utah    5    61.5% -28.0% 22,806,021 12.5% 4,644,687


North Dakota    6    58.1% -11.7% 24,496,807 38.1% 16,084,768


Indiana    7    53.1% -38.9% 47,772,885 8.2% 7,364,544


Nebraska    8    51.0% -22.3% 18,788,647 28.9% 10,648,740


Wisconsin    9    38.7% -36.1% 23,761,097 9.4% 5,779,793


New Mexico    10    37.5% -37.4% 12,788,184 27.2% 9,253,738


Ohio    11    37.2% -37.2% 45,008,596 2.9% 3,500,737


Montana    12    36.4% -47.0% 8,490,284 59.4% 13,872,119


Colorado    13    36.0% -38.2% 19,478,405 30.9% 16,724,964


Kansas    14    31.1% -31.0% 16,959,839 44.2% 24,117,519


Arkansas    15    28.2% -29.1% 15,420,998 10.5% 5,735,702


United States    –    19.3% -42.8% 773,392,897 19.5% 783,003,365



For more information, a detailed methodology, and complete results, you can find the original report on’s website.

fossil fuels

U.S. States Most Dependent on Fossil Fuels

With the effects of global climate change becoming increasingly apparent, policymakers across the U.S. are moving to reduce the nation’s reliance on carbon-based fossil fuels.

At the beginning of his term, President Joe Biden rejoined the Paris Climate Accord, and in April, the Biden Administration announced aggressive new greenhouse gas reduction goals, including an overall aim to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas pollution to half of 2005 levels by 2030. Meanwhile, nearly 40 states have adopted renewable portfolio standards to facilitate a transition away from fossil fuels for energy production to renewables.

Despite these efforts, however, fossil fuel consumption remains deeply entrenched in the U.S. economy, and it could take years to transition away from fossil fuels as the country’s primary energy source.

Petroleum remains the leading source of energy in the U.S., accounting for approximately one-third of energy consumed. Energy consumption from natural gas expanded over the last decade as the rise of hydraulic fracturing made it less costly to extract. Most of that growth has come at the expense of coal, which represented 22.7% of the energy consumed in 2008 but just 13.1% a decade later. And while nuclear has held steady and renewables have continued to grow with improved technology and greater scale, fossil fuels still represent more than 80% of total energy consumption in the U.S. each year.

One example of the difficulties of shifting away from fossil fuels is consumers’ relationship to gasoline and car travel. Recently, gasoline prices have been on the rise again: prices dropped sharply in 2020, as many travelers and commuters stayed off the roads during the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, with many public health restrictions being relaxed as cases decline and more people get vaccinated, prices have topped $3 per gallon nationally for the first time since 2014. But despite what the laws of supply and demand might suggest, rising prices do not strongly affect driver behavior: research shows they tend to purchase the same amount of gasoline regardless of how much it costs. Instead, breaking drivers’ reliance on fossil fuels will depend on auto manufacturers providing more hybrid and electric options, whether by choice or by policy, like California’s zero-emission vehicle regulations.

State-level data reinforces that there is a long way to go before the transition away from fossil fuels is complete. Every single U.S. state derives at least 50% of its energy from fossil fuels, and a total of nine states derive more than 90% of their energy from fossil fuels. Among the most dependent are small states like Delaware and Rhode Island, which import most of their energy from elsewhere, and states with rich stores of fossil fuels, like Alaska, West Virginia, and Kentucky. At the other end of the spectrum are states like Washington, Oregon, and New Hampshire, which rely more on nuclear and renewables like hydroelectric power and derive less than 60% of their energy from fossil fuels.

To find the states most dependent on fossil fuels, researchers at used data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration to calculate the percentage of total primary energy consumption from coal, natural gas, and petroleum in 2018 (the most recent available data). Researchers also calculated the percentage of total primary energy consumption derived from renewable sources, as well as the largest fossil fuel source.

Here are the states most dependent on fossil fuels.

State Rank Percentage of energy derived from fossil fuels Percentage of energy derived from renewables Total energy consumed from fossil fuels (trillion BTU) Total energy consumed from renewables (trillion BTU) Largest fossil fuel source


Delaware     1     96.4% 3.6% 213.1 8.0 Petroleum
Alaska     2     95.9% 4.1% 584.8 25.0 Natural Gas
West Virginia     3     95.4% 4.6% 1,103.3 53.7 Coal
Rhode Island     4     95.0% 5.0% 189.1 10.0 Natural Gas
Kentucky     5     94.1% 5.9% 1,616.5 102.1 Coal
Wyoming     6     93.5% 6.5% 793.2 54.9 Coal
Indiana     7     93.4% 6.6% 2,617.2 185.9 Coal
Utah     8     93.1% 6.9% 830.0 61.3 Petroleum
Louisiana     9     92.1% 3.7% 3,895.5 155.0 Petroleum
Texas     10     89.9% 7.1% 12,752.3 1,009.0 Petroleum
Ohio     11     89.7% 4.7% 3,040.2 158.6 Natural Gas
Hawaii     12     89.4% 10.6% 261.8 31.1 Petroleum
Colorado     13     88.8% 11.2% 1,305.1 164.6 Natural Gas
Mississippi     14     88.2% 6.1% 1,116.6 76.8 Natural Gas
Missouri     15     88.0% 5.9% 1,608.7 108.5 Coal
United States     –     80.5% 11.2% 81,238.0 11,281.6 Petroleum


For more information, a detailed methodology, and complete results, you can find the original report on’s website:

solar panel

The Global Solar Panel Market to Skyrocket on the Shift Towards Renewable Energy

IndexBox has just published a new report: ‘World – Solar Cells and Light-Emitting Diodes – Market Analysis, Forecast, Size, Trends and Insights’. Here is a summary of the report’s key findings.

The global solar panel market accelerates along with the unabated shift towards renewable energy. China, the leader in solar panel exports, will enjoy robust foreign demand while the domestic purchases may slow due to tariff subsidies cut. The U.S. experiences a surge in solar power generation, thanks to the increasing affordability of solar cells and robust suburban construction. The EU, Asia-Pacific, Mexico and Australia are also emerging as the most promising markets due to the swift adoption of solar generation capacities.

Key Trends and Insights

The global solar panel market is expected to skyrocket and exceed $130B by 2030, driven by the increasing shift towards renewable energy worldwide. In 2020, more than 80% of all the world’s newly commissioned electric power was from renewable sources, accounting for near 260 GW of the new capacity. Of this amount, almost a half comes from solar generation. The electricity production from solar generators, according to a forecast by the International Energy Agency, will increase 4.5 times over by 2030, which will be the primary stimulus for the growth of the solar panel market.

The Chinese solar panel industry will continue to thrive amid soaring global demand, despite removing tariff subsidies for new domestic solar energy projects. In China, the world’s leading renewable energy producer, the new solar power capacity grew by 49 GW, which accounts for 36% of the total renewable capacity. Starting from 2021, electricity generated by new solar capacities is to be sold either at local coal-fired power prices or at market prices. This may hamper the domestic solar panel market expansion, but Chinese manufacturers may offset this by rising exports because they dominate global solar panel supplies.

The increased availability of solar panels in the U.S. enables to accelerate the market growth. In 2020, the U.S. commissioned 29 GW of new renewable energy sources, up 80% from a year earlier, of which 15 GW came from solar power. Over the past decade, the cost of solar systems in the United States has dropped by 70%, and the cost of solar-generated electricity has become attractive against alternative sources. In 2020, the base overnight cost of solar photovoltaic energy ranged from $1.248 to $1.612 per kW, which is significantly lower than the base overnight cost of conventional hydropower electricity of $2.769 per kW or geothermal one of $2.772 per kW.

The deployment of distributed solar photovoltaic systems in homes as well as for commercial and industrial buildings appears as a budding market segment worldwide. In the U.S., it is expected to grow rapidly on the backdrop of a boom in suburban single-family construction, highlighting a bright opportunity for investors.

Vietnam is emerging as a promising market, having solar energy capacity skyrocketed over the last two years. To a lesser extent, this is also relevant for the EU, especially Germany, Spain, the Netherlands and Belgium. Australia, Mexico, the UAE and Chile also feature amongst the leaders of the solar energy adoption race. All these markets are to be in the particular focus of global solar energy solution providers who seek new opportunities.


Global imports of solar cells and light-emitting diodes stood at $54.2B (IndexBox estimates) in 2020. The most prominent rate of growth was recorded in 2014 when imports increased by 6.8% against the previous year. Over the period under review, global imports hit record highs at $55.4B in 2015; however, from 2016 to 2020, imports stood at a somewhat lower figure.

The U.S. ($10.5B) constitutes the largest market for imported solar cells and light-emitting diodes worldwide, comprising 19% of global imports. The second position in the ranking was occupied by Germany ($3.1B), with a 5.6% share of global imports. It was followed by Mexico, with a 2.2% share.

From 2007 to 2020, the average annual growth rate of value in the U.S. totaled +15.1%. The remaining importing countries recorded the following average annual rates of imports growth: Germany (-3.5% per year) and Mexico (+7.9% per year).


In 2020, solar cells and light-emitting diodes exports totaled $57.5B (IndexBox estimates).

China ($23.8B) remains the largest solar cells and light-emitting diodes supplier worldwide, comprising 41% of global exports. The second position in the ranking was occupied by Malaysia ($5.6B), with a 9.7% share of global exports. It was followed by Japan, with a 6% share.

From 2007 to 2020, the average annual rate of growth in terms of value in China stood at +12.3%. The remaining exporting countries recorded the following average annual rates of exports growth: Malaysia (+14.6% per year) and Japan (-3.5% per year).

Source: IndexBox Platform