In this year’s State Rankings Report, Business Facilities expanded its established energy categories to include rankings for natural gas production, nuclear energy, industrial electricity rates and lowest CO2 emissions.
The national publication focused on site selection and economic development also split its Biofuels Leaders ranking into two categories, including a benchmark for cellulosic ethanol, which promises to become a major new alternative energy source as pilot plants scale up into full-scale production.
Washington, California and Oregon took the top three slots, respectively, in both of the Renewable Energy Leaders rankings, which tracks cumulative capacity and power generation for solar, wind, biofuels, hydro and geothermal power sources.
Texas topped the field in Natural Gas Production Leaders, followed in the top five by Louisiana, Wyoming, Oklahoma and Colorado. Pennsylvania surged into no. 6 on the natural gas leaderboard.
“We expect the continued expansion of natural gas production from the Marcellus Shale formation will be a driver of economic development in Pennsylvania,” said BF Editor in Chief Jack Rogers, noting that PA has introduced innovative incentives for new businesses utilizing natural gas.
Vermont took first place in BF‘s new state ranking for Lowest CO2 emissions, followed by Rhode Island, Delaware, South Dakota and Idaho in the top five.
“We’re not surprised a bucolic location like Vermont has a small carbon footprint, but kudos to Rhode Island and Delaware for joining the top ranks of the greenest states,” Rogers said.
According to the Solar Energy Industry Association, installed solar power capacity in the U.S. grew by an astounding 76 percent (3,313 megawatts) in 2012, pushing the national total to 7,700 MW. That’s nearly a tenfold increase from the 2010 total of 848 MW. Another 4,200 megawatts of photovoltaic-generated power is expected to come online by the end of this year.
“Those who liked to snicker at the development of what we used to call green energy, denigrating non-fossil power sources as a passing fad, probably should join the climate-change skeptics in the witness protection program,” Rogers said.
California, with its vast array of desert solar panel farms, easily tops the magazine’s annual list of Installed Solar Power Capacity Leaders. Arizona has eased into second place, edging out New Jersey, which has an aggressive utility-backed program for residential as well as commercial panel installations. Massachusetts, New York and Maryland join NJ as states that have achieved leadership positions in solar power without the advantage of a Sun Belt location.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Agency, about 13,000 MW of wind-power capacity was installed in the U.S. last year, more than twice the capacity installed in 2011. This brings total U.S. wind-power capacity to 60,007 MW (generated by more than 45,000 wind turbines nationwide).
Texas still rules the roost in BF‘s Installed Wind Power Capacity ranking, while Minnesota and Kansas have made great strides in increasing the percentage of their overall energy needs now being serviced by wind farms.
Washington, Oklahoma and Montana were the top three states, respectively, in BF‘s new Lowest Industrial Electricity Rates ranking. Illinois took the top spot in another new energy category, Nuclear Power Generation Leaders, followed by Pennsylvania and South Carolina.
Iowa still reigns supreme in BF‘s traditional (corn-based) Biofuels Leaders ranking. In the new Cellulosic Ethanol Biofuels Leaders category, Alabama, Iowa, Georgia and North Carolina topped the list.
“The states that have converted pilot facilities to commercial production quickly will win the race to dominate this important new source of alternative energy,” Rogers said.
The complete results of Business Facilities’ 9th Annual Rankings Report will be posted on the BF website on August 5. The results also will be featured in the cover story of BF‘s July/August issue.