New report shows Virginia lags behind in renewable energy development, despite nationwide growth

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Environment Virginia Research & Policy Center

Richmond, Va – Virginia ranks 45th in the nation for wind and solar generation as percentage of electricity consumption and 29th in energy efficiency improvements since 2010, lagging behind the nation in a new report released today by Environment Virginia Research & Policy Center. The project, Renewables on the Rise 2020, documents and compares the growth of five key clean energy technologies in each state over the past decade: solar power, wind power, battery storage, energy efficiency and electric vehicles. While Virginia has seen energy consumption grow by 5%, nationwide there has been a 3% decrease in per capita energy consumption (efficiency). 

“There’s no getting around that Virginia had fallen behind over the last decade when it came to transitioning to a cleaner, healthier future powered by renewable energy,” said Elly Boehmer, State Director with Environment Virginia Research & Policy Center. “But, the gains we’ve seen from coast to coast and ambitious policies right here in Virginia should give Virginians the confidence and blueprint we need to pick up the pace and catch up with our neighbors.” 

While the state has lagged behind over the last decade, this year state legislators took bold action to put Virginia on the right path by committing to 100% clean energy by 2045 by passing the Virginia Clean Economy Act. The Virginia Clean Economy Act will bring renewable energy to Virginia unlike ever before with aggressive targets to build out solar and offshore wind. 

“Virginia has fallen behind its neighbors like North Carolina when it comes to renewable energy but we have recently led when it comes to renewable energy policy. We have work to do in increasing energy efficiency, battery storage and getting more EVs on the road but there is no doubt renewables are on the rise in Virginia and the next decade is sure to be cleaner than the last,” said Boehmer.

In addition to offering a state-by-state assessment of the growth of key clean energy technologies, the study also shows the rapid gains achieved overall nationally. In 2019, the U.S. produced 30 times more solar power and more than triple the amount of wind energy than it did in 2010. In addition to the growth in renewable energy, utility scale battery storage increased 20-fold since 2010, energy consumption per person declined thanks to improvements in energy efficiency, and more than one million electric vehicles were sold in the U.S. 

“This project offers a timely reminder that we have an immense, largely untapped opportunity when it comes to clean energy here in Virginia,” Boehmer said. “We have seen some progress toward the clean, renewable energy future we need already, but we need to lean in and commit to moving faster in the decade ahead to make that future a reality.”


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