How are renewable technologies being utilized in Rhode Island today?
While Rhode Island has seen encouraging signs from wind, solar, hydroelectric, and biomass resources, renewables account for a mere 7% of statewide net electricity generation. Since electricity accounts for only one third of energy consumption—the other two thirds belonging to thermal and transportation—, renewables are just beginning to crack the statewide energy budget.
I. About 7% of Rhode Island’s net electricity was generated from renewable sources in 2017 .
II. Wind :
A. 21 onshore wind projects contributed 23 MW of capacity in 2016.
B. The Block Island Wind Farm, a 30 MW offshore wind project, was the first of its kind in the United States.
C. Deepwater Wind, the company responsible for the Block Island Wind Farm, is slated to build a 400 MW offshore wind project in federal waters.
D. The RIWINDS study (2007) estimated that 95 per cent of Rhode Island’s wind energy reserves are located offshore, a potential boon to Rhode Island’s renewable energy cause.
E. The capacity factor for wind turbines—the proportion of peak generation delivered by a power plant— is around 20%, with a potential of nearly 50% for offshore turbines, which experience more vigorous winds.
F. In-state wind power provides 0.5% of Rhode Island’s electrical consumption needs.
G. A University of Rhode Island study (2013) demonstrated no statistically significant reduction in property values of homes located near wind turbines.
III. Solar :
A. 2,105 installations accounted for 37 MW of solar capacity in 2016.
B. Current in-state solar installations provide 0.5% of Rhode Island’s electrical consumption needs.
C.The capacity factor hovers around 13% and measures the proportion of peak electricity generation provided by a solar system.
D.This form of electricity is a potential wellspring, as the State Energy Plan proposes the development of 1800 MW of solar power by 2035.
IV. Hydroelectric :
A. There is limited potential (10-20 MW) for hydroelectric power in Rhode Island, since there are few viable rivers in the state.
B. In 2016, 7 hydroelectric facilities accounted for 6.7 MW capacity.
C. This form of energy meets 0.3% of Rhode Island’s electrical consumption needs.
V. Biomass :
A. Currently, the largest renewable energy resource in the state.
B. Landfill gas (methane) is a commonly used biomass fuel.
VI. Some of the clean energy Rhode Islanders consume is drawn from out of state, as Rhode Island coordinates with ISO-NE—a not-for-profit that manages the electrical grid across six New England States .