“The Natural State” Slowly Turns From Coal To Renewables

State Economy

The population of The Natural State, Arkansas is approximately 3.03 million people[1]. Arkansas is the 34th most populated state in the United States.

In 2021, Arkansas’ economy was ranked 34th in the United States in gross domestic product (GDP)[2]. The state’s economy is dependent on the agriculture, logistics, aerospace, forestry, and tourism industries[3].

Environment Policies

Arkansas is one of only 13 states that has neither a renewable portfolio standard (RPS) nor a renewable energy goal[4].

In September 2021, Arkansas utilities used coal (44.6 %), natural gas (28.6 %), nuclear energy (18.5 %), and  renewable energy (8.4 %) to generate electricity[5]. Hydropower, biomass, and solar are the primary types of renewable energy used to generate electricity in the state.

In September 2021, the average cost of residential electricity in Arkansas was 11.66 per kWh, compared to the national average of 14.19 ¢ per kWh.

Recent renewable energy developments in Arkansas include:

  • 180 MW Wind Project – In January 2021, American renewable energy company, Scout Clean Energy is continuing the permitting for the Nimbus project at a site approximately 100 miles northwest of the state capital, Little Rock. The project is forecast to be commissioned in 2023.
  • 135 MW Solar Project – In January 2022, British energy company Lightsource bp commenced work on the Conway Solar project at a site approximately 110 miles southwest of Little Rock. The project is forecast to be commissioned in 2023.
  • 100 MW Solar + 10 MW Energy Storage Project – In December 2021, American utility, Entergy commissioned the Searcy Solar project at a site approximately 50 miles northeast of Little Rock.
  • 100 MW Solar Project – In September 2020, American utilities, NextEra and Entergy commissioned the Chicot Solar Energy Center, which is located approximately 100 miles southeast of Little Rock.
  • 100 MW Solar Project – Entergy is continuing work on the Walnut Bend Solar project at a site approximately 50 miles east of Little Rock. The project is forecast to be commissioned by year-end 2022.
  • Biomass Plant – British biomass company, the Drax Group is continuing work on a wood pellet biomass production plant at a site located approximately 35 miles southwest of Little Rock. The plant is forecast to be completed and operational by year-end 2022.

Conclusions

Coal mining began in the northwestern region of Arkansas in 1848[6]. Coal was initially used to fuel steam engines for the railroad, stoves, and forges.

Arkansas’ last coal mines ceased operation[7] in 2017. The coal used to fuel Arkansas’ power plants is now brought primarily from Wyoming by rail.

In 2010, 49.5% of “The Natural State’s” electricity was generated from coal-fueled power plants[8]. In September 2021, 44.6 % of the state’s electricity was generated from coal-fueled power plants.

Escalating mining and transportation costs now make the cost of electricity from coal significantly more expensive than wind or solar. Utilities across the country have been closing coal-fueled power plants due to economics.

Arkansas has significant renewable energy resources, including solar, biomass and wind. Economics have caused utilities in “The Natural State” to turn from coal to clean, low cost, renewable energy.

 Jack Kerfoot

Website – “Our Energy Conundrum”

www.jackkerfoot.com

 

[1] Arkansas Population 2021, World Population Review

[2] U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis

[3] What Are The Major Industries In Arkansas? – World Atlas

[4] National Conference of State Legislators – State Renewable Portfolio Standards and Goals, August 13, 2021

[5] U.S. Energy Information Agency – Arkansas State Profile and Energy Estimates

[6] Arkansas Geological Survey 2020

[7] US Energy Information Agency – Arkansas State Profile and Energy Estimates, Analysis – Coal

[8] EIA, Electric Power Sector Consumption Estimates, Arkansas 1960-2018

Share and Enjoy !

Shares

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.