The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory produced the study, U.S. RE Technical Potential, which looks at available renewable resources in each state. It establishes an upper-boundary estimate of development potential. Economic or market restraints would factor into what projects might actually be deployed.
The report is valuable for decision-makers and utility executives because it compares estimates across six renewable energy technologies and unifies assumptions and methods. It shows the achievable energy generation of a particular technology given resource availability – solar, wind, geothermal availability, etc.—system performance, topographic limitations, and environmental and land-use constraints.
The study includes state-level maps and tables containing available land area (square kilometers), installed capacity (gigawatts), and electric generation (gigawatt-hours) for each technology.
"Decision-makers using the study will get a sense of scale regarding the potential for renewables, and which technologies are worth examining," said NREL’s Anthony Lopez, a co-author of the study. "Energy modelers also will find the study valuable."
“This is intended to be a living document,” NREL’s Donna Heimiller, another co-author, added. “We’ll be frequently updating the information as we get more data.”