By Len Beshtoff, NBC CT, September 23, 2022
It’s estimated our state produced more than 1000 GW (gigawatts) of solar energy, and 14 GW of wind power last year, according to a recent report by an organization called Climate Central.
But is that a lot or a little?
When you think of states with a strong solar or wind energy footprint, places like California and Texas are the big dogs if you base it on total output.
Believe it or not, Connecticut falls into the category of small, but mighty by some measures.
“Connecticut looks really great, very similar to a lot of the northeast states, which have done a nice job investing in renewable energy and doing it in a way that works with their state,” Climate Central Director of Climate Science Andrew Pershing said.
The team at Climate Central recently compared U.S. states on their 2021 renewable energy production with a twist – it also factored in the amount of land states had to work with, and how much renewable energy was generated per customer.
When you rank things that way, Connecticut was 21st in the U.S. in terms of total solar power produced, but fifth in solar energy based on the amount of land we have, and 20th in the amount produced on a per-person basis.
“For solar power, that’s really where you see Connecticut doing really well, where you go from, you know, 21st in the nation in terms of raw solar, which is pretty remarkable, right, to be in the top half. Given how small Connecticut is to when you think about it by area by, you know, just that the side, the footprint of the state, you’re number five, which is really great,” Pershing added.
A wind power farm planned off New London provides hope of more renewable production in our state soon.
For now, though, we rank 36th in wind energy based on the amount of land we have, and 37th on wind energy produced per person.
“It’s now the cheapest source of electricity in the world [wind turbines]. The challenge is that, you know, they’re a big structure and they generate some noise. So you really don’t want to put them in downtown Hartford. You don’t want to put them in your backyard. You’re going to put them in an area that’s less populated. And Connecticut just doesn’t have as much of that space as you’re going to find in Maine or as you’re going to find in, you know, Nebraska,” Pershing said.
The leading solar county in 2021 was Hartford County, hitting peak production June 17 last year. For wind, the leader is Litchfield County, which hit its maximum power production on Jan. 24, 2021. We’re doing better than a number of our neighboring states as well.