In 2023, South Carolina’s economy was ranked 24th in the United States in gross domestic product (GDP). The state’s economy is dependent on 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 June 2023, utilities used nuclear energy (54.3%), natural gas (23.6%), coal (17.0%), and renewable energy (5.1%) 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 June 2023, the average cost of residential electricity in South Carolina was 14.17¢ per kWh, compared to the national average of 16.11¢ 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.
- 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 2022, 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 by year-end 2023.
- 12 MW Solar Project – In December 2020, Dominion Energy commissioned the Trask East Solar facility at a site located approximately 100 miles south of Columbia.
In 2010, 36.4% of South Carolina’s electricity was generated from coal-fueled power plants. In June 2023, 17.0% 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 cheaper natural gas prompted state utilities to shift from coal to natural gas for the state’s new power plants.
On 24 February 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine, prompting the European Union, United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand to place economic sanctions on Russian imports and exports. As a result, the crude oil and natural gas prices increased by over 50% from May 2021 to May 2022
South Carolina has significant undeveloped renewable energy resources, including solar, offshore wind, and biomass. Oceana, an ocean conservation organization that South Carolina could generate over 60% of the state’s electricity just from offshore wind.
State utilities are now moving to low-cost, reliable renewable energy projects, as both coal and natural gas prices steadily increase.
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, podcast, and television stations from New York City to Los Angeles on numerous energy issues.