The population of the “Palmetto State” South Carolina is approximately 5.27 million people. South Carolina is the 23rd most populated state in the United States.
In 2022, South Carolina’s economy was ranked 25th in the United States in gross domestic product (GDP). The state’s economy is dependent on the agriculture, automotive, aerospace, and tourism industries.
In 2014, South Carolina enacted a Voluntary Renewables Portfolio Standard for investor-owned utilities to sell 2% of their electricity from renewable energy sources by 2021.
Power Generation Capabilities
In September 2022, utilities used nuclear energy (50.8 %), natural gas (29.0 %), coal (14.4 %), and renewable energy (5.8 %) to generate electricity in South Carolina. Hydropower, solar, and biomass are the primary types of renewable energy used to generate electricity in South Carolina.
In September 2022, the average cost of residential electricity in South Carolina was 15.14 ¢ per kWh, compared to the national average of 16.32 ¢ per kWh.
Recent renewable energy developments in South Carolina include:
- 200 MW Solar Project – Tennessee solar company is continuing work on the Lambert solar project at a site located approximately 90 miles southeast of the state capital, Columbia. The project is forecast to be commissioned by year-end 2023.
- 108 MW Solar + 198 MWh Energy Storage Project – South Carolina company, Southern Current is continuing work on the Lone Star Solar plus energy storage project at a site located approximately 20 miles south of Columbia. The project is forecast to be commissioned by year-end 2024.
- 98 MW Solar Project – In March 2021, American solar company, Pine Gate Renewables commissioned the Centerfield Solar project at a site located approximately 75 miles northeast of
- 75 MW Solar Project – In January 2023, Missouri renewable energy company, Savion commissioned the Orangeburg County Solar Project at a site approximately 40 miles southwest of Columbia.
- 75 MW Solar Project – California solar company, Ecoplexus is continuing work on the Hemingway solar project at a site approximately 100 miles southeast of Columbia. The project is forecast to be commissioned by year-end 2023.
- 75 MW Solar Project – Virginia power company, Dominion Energy is continuing on the Chester White solar project at a site approximately 50 miles southwest of Columbia. The project is forecast to be commissioned by year-end 2023.
- 75 MW Solar Project – South Carolina company, Johnson Development is continuing work on a solar project at a site approximately 85 southeast of Columbia. The project is forecast to be commissioned in 2023.
In 2010, 36.4% of South Carolina’s electricity was generated from coal-fueled power plants. In September 2022, 14.4% of the state’s electricity was generated from coal-fueled power plants. Why the decrease?
- Pollution – Coal ash, the product of coal burned in a power plant contains arsenic, mercury, and lead; which are toxic. In 2019, coal ash was documented to have leaked into the ground water around 241 coal-fired plants in America.
- Economics – The cost to generate power from coal is more than double the cost to generate power from renewables, like solar.
- Climate Change – Coal generates 40% to 45% more greenhouse gases than natural gas.
South Carolina has steadily reduced the use of coal to fuel power plants over the last decade. The abundance of inexpensive natural gas caused utilities to shift from coal to natural gas as a fuel for state power plants.
On 24 February 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine, resulting in the United States, Canada, and the European Union placing embargos on Russian exports. As a result, the global price for crude oil and natural gas increased by over 50% from May 2021 to May 2022.
In 2022, the United States was the 3rd largest liquified natural gas (LNG) exporting country, behind Australia and Qatar. In 2023, the United States is now ramping up LNG exports to Europe due offset the loss of Russian natural gas imports. Natural gas prices are projected to rise as the demand for non-Russian natural gas around the world is expected to increase.
South Carolina has significant undeveloped renewable energy resources, including solar, offshore wind, and biomass. State utilities are now accelerating the develop of renewable energy projects, as coal and natural gas prices are expected to continue to increase.
Volatile fossil fuel prices are driving the Palmetto State to move to low-cost, reliable renewable energy.
Website – “Our Energy Conundrum”
Jack Kerfoot is a scientist, energy expert, and author of the book FUELING AMERICA, An Insider’s Journey and articles for The Hill, one of the largest independent political news sites in the United States. He has been interviewed on over 100 radio and television stations from New York City to Los Angeles on a wide range of energy topics.
 South Carolina Population 2023, World Population Review
 U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis
 Biggest Industries in South Carolina – World Atlas
 National Conference of State Legislators – State Renewable Portfolio Standards and Goals, August 13, 2021
 U.S. Energy Information Agency – South Carolina State Profile and Energy Estimates
 EIA, Electric Power Sector Consumption Estimates, Georgia 1960-2018
 Reuters, “Coal Ash Contaminates Groundwater Near Most U.S. Coal Plants: Study” by Valerie Volcovici, March 3, 2019
 Liquified Natural Gas Exports By Country 2022 by Daniel Workman