Buckeye State Struggles To Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions

State Economy

The population of the “Buckeye State,” Ohio is approximately 11.75 million people[1]. Ohio is the 7th most populated state in the United States.

In 2022, Ohio’s economy was ranked 7th in the United States in gross domestic product (GDP)[2]. The state’s economy is dependent on the aerospace, defense, bioscience, insurance, banking, agriculture, steel, automotive, and coal industries[3].

Environmental Policies

In 2008, Ohio enacted an Alternative Energy Resource Standard, requiring all utilities to sell 12.5% of their electricity from renewable sources by 2026[4].

In 2019, Ohio reduced the Alternative Energy Standard for the sale of renewable energy from 12.5% to 8.5% by 2026. The state legislature also approved a measure[5] providing financial subsidies for coal-fired and nuclear power plants.

Power Generation Capabilities

In March 2023, utilities[6] used natural gas (62.3%), coal (25.9%), nuclear power (6.8%), and renewable energy (5.0%) to generate electricity in Ohio. Wind and solar are the dominant types of renewable energy used to generate electricity in Ohio.

In March 2023, the average cost of residential electricity in Ohio was 14.88¢ per kWh, compared to the national average of 15.85¢ per kWh.

Recent renewable energy developments in Ohio include:

  • 577 MW Solar Project – French utility, EDF is continuing on the Fox Squirrel solar project at a site approximately 15 miles west of the state capital, Columbus, Ohio. The project is forecast to be commissioned by year-end 2024.
  • 250 MW Wind Project – In June 2021, German power company, RWE commissioned the Scioto Ridge wind project at a site approximately 60 miles northwest of Columbus.
  • 200 MW Solar ProjectMissouri solar developer, Savion Renewable Energy is continuing work on the Atlanta Farms solar project at a site approximately 20 miles south of Columbus. The project is forecast to be commissioned by year-end 2023.
  • 150 MW Solar Project – Spanish renewable energy company, Avangrid Renewables is continuing work on the Powell Creek solar project at a site approximately 100 miles northwest of Columbus. The project is forecast to be commissioned by year-end 2023.
  • 144 MW Solar Project – Texas renewable energy company, Open Road Renewables is continuing work on the Clearview Solar projectat a site approximately 40 miles west of Columbus. The project is forecast to be commissioned by year-end 2023.
  • 125 MW Solar + 50 Energy Storage Project – Virginia renewable energy company, Apex Clean Energy is continuing work on the Wheatsborough Solar project at a site approximately 20 west of the city of Cleveland. The project is forecast to be commissioned by year-end 2023.
  • 120 MW Solar Project – In December 2022, Open Road Renewables commissioned the Ross County Solar projectat a site approximately 45 miles south of Columbus.
  • 107 MW Solar Project – In December 2022, Texas solar company, 7X Energy commissioned the Arche Energy Project at a site approximately 150 miles northwest of Columbus.
  • 80 MW Solar Project – In December 2022, Open Road Renewables commissioned the Angelina Solar project at a site approximately 100 miles west of Columbus.
  • 9 MW Solar Project – In December 2022, Open Road Renewables commissioned the Alamo Solar project at a site approximately 75 miles southwest of Columbus.

Conclusions

Commercial coal mining began in Ohio in 1880[7]. The coal in the 1880s was used to fuel steam engines for the railroad, forges, and furnaces. In 2021, Ohio produced 2.76 million tons of bituminous coal from 4 subsurface and 5 surface mines[8].

In 2010, 83.2% of Ohio’s electricity was generated from coal-fueled power plants[9]. In March 2023, 25.9% of the state’s electricity was generated from coal. Why the decrease?

  1. Economics The cost to generate power from wind, solar, hydropower, and even natural gas is significantly cheaper than coal. The cost to generate power from coal-fired plants is over twice the cost of wind or solar.
  2. EnvironmentCoal ash, the product of coal burned in a power plant contains arsenic, mercury, and lead; which are toxic. In 2019, coal ash was reported to have contaminated the ground water around 241 coal-fired plants in America[10].
  3. Climate Change Coal generates 40% to 45% more greenhouse gases than natural gas.

Ohio has continued to reduce the use of coal to fuel power plants over the last decade. The abundance of inexpensive natural gas prompted Ohio’s utilities to shift from coal to natural gas power plants.

However, Ohio is still heavily dependent on fossil fuels (natural gas, coal, and oil) for the overwhelming majority of the state’s electricity. In 2010, 88.2 % of Ohio’s electricity was generated from fossil fueled power plants. In March 2023, 88.2% of the state’s electricity was generated from fossil fuels.

Ohio has significant renewable energy resource potential, including wind, solar, and biomass. State utilities are accelerating the development of renewable energy projects, as coal and natural gas prices continue to increase. Although the Buckeye State has cooled on coal, it has made little progress at reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

 

Jack Kerfoot

Website – “Our Energy Conundrum”

www.jackkerfoot.com

 

 

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, podcast, and television stations from New York City to Los Angeles on numerous energy issues.

 

[1] Ohio Population 2023, World Population Review

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

[3] Biggest Industries in Ohio  – World Atlas

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

[5] Inside Climate News – Ohio Governor Signs Coal and Nuclear Bailout at Expense of Renewable Energy, 26 July 2019

[6] U.S. Energy Information Agency – Ohio State Profile and Energy Estimates, www.eia.gov

[7] Ohio Department of Natural Resources – History of Coal Mining in Ohio by Douglas L. Crowell, May 2005

[8] U.S. Energy Information Agency, Annual Coal Report 2021, Released October 18, 2022

[9] U.S. Energy Information Agency, Ohio Electric Power Consumption Estimates 1960 – 2018

[10] Reuters, “Coal Ash Contaminates Groundwater Near Most U.S. Coal Plants: Study” by Valerie Volcovici, March 3, 2019

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