The Natural State Cooling On Coal

State Overview

The population of Arkansas, known as the “Natural State,” is approximately 3.09 million people. Arkansas is the 34th most populated state in the United States.

In 2022, Arkansas’ economy was ranked 34th in the United States in gross domestic product (GDP). The state’s economy is dependent on agriculture, logistics, aerospace, forestry, and tourism industries.

Environmental Policies

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

Power Generation Capabilities

In October 2023, utilities used coal (34.2%),  nuclear energy (29.2%), natural gas (25.0%), and  renewable energy (11.6%) to generate electricity in Arkansas. Hydropower and solar are the dominant types of renewable energy used to generate electricity Arkansas.

In October 2023, the average cost of residential electricity in Arkansas was 12.71¢ per kWh, compared to the national average of 16.21¢ per kWh.

Recent renewable energy developments in Arkansas include:

  • 250 MW Solar Project – British energy company Lightsource bp is continuing work on the Entergy Arkansas Driver Solar project at a site approximately 125 miles northeast of the state capital, Little Rock. The project is forecast to be commissioned by year-end 2024.
  • 180 MW Wind Project – American renewable energy company, Scout Clean Energy is continuing work on the Nimbus wind project at a site approximately 100 miles northwest of Little Rock. The project is forecast to be commissioned by year-end 2024.
  • 135 MW Solar Project – In July 2023, Lightsource bp commissioned the Conway Solar project at a site approximately 110 miles southwest of Little Rock.
  • 100 MW Solar + 10 MW Energy Storage Project – In January 2022, Entergy commissioned the Searcy Solar project at a site approximately 50 miles northeast of Little Rock.
  • 100 MW Solar Project – In December 2022, Entergy commissioned the Walnut Bend Solar project at a site approximately 50 miles east of Little Rock.
  • 20 MW Solar + 20 MW Energy Storage Project – In March 2023, New Jersey company CS Energy and Idaho company KORE Power collaborated to commission a solar plus battery energy storage system (BESS) at a site approximately 25 miles southeast of Little Rock.
  • Biomass Plant – In February 2022, British biomass company, the Drax Group commissioned a wood pellet biomass production plant at a site located approximately 35 miles southwest of Little Rock.

Conclusions

Coal mining began in the northwestern region of Arkansas in 1818. Coal was initially used to fuel steam engines for the railroad, stoves, and forges.

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

In 2010, 49.5% of Arkansas’ electricity was generated from coal-fueled power plants. In October 2023, 34.2% of the state’s electricity was generated from coal-fueled power plants. Why the decrease in the use of coal?

  1. Economics – The cost to generate power from wind, solar, and hydropower is significantly cheaper than coal. The cost to generate power from coal-fired plants is over twice the cost of wind or solar.
  2. Environment – 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.
  3. Climate Change – Coal generates 40% to 45% more greenhouse gases than natural gas.

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

 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 a diverse range of energy issues.

 

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