Where Louisiana stands in the nationwide energy transition


Louisiana will soon mark the seventh annual National Clean Energy Week. While the state’s renewable power industry is slightly behind that of most other states, it is forecast to accelerate significantly over the coming years, reports Louisiana Illuminator.

According to a news release Thursday, Gov. John Bel Edwards issued a proclamation declaring Sept. 25-29 as Clean Energy Week in Louisiana in conjunction with the national celebration.

By most statistical categories, the celebration is warranted. Clean energy, or more specifically, renewable energy, has exploded in growth across the U.S.

In its category of “clean energy,” the National Clean Energy Week organization includes natural gas, hydrogen, biomass and propane even though those sources emit greenhouse gases and rely mostly on finite resources. “Renewable energy,” on the other hand, is more narrowly limited to solar, wind, hydropower and geothermal energy, which emit no pollution and rely on resources that are virtually infinite, like sunlight.

Solar energy has seen huge expansions nationwide, according to the Solar Energy Industry Association. Utility-scale solar installations have increased 15-fold since 2013 in terms of generation capacity, from 6,626 megawatts to 98,907 megawatts in 2023.

Though late to the game, Louisiana has begun to grow its renewable power industry and is projected to accelerate that growth in the coming years. Louisiana currently has about 311 megawatts of solar power generating capacity, compared to virtually zero a decade ago.

The state also has several new utility-scale solar installations currently under construction, including a 300-megawatt solar plant in Pointe Coupee Parish and a 200-megawatt plant in Morehouse Parish, both of which are expected to be completed this year.

Louisiana’s solar energy sector is ranked 38th in size, but the SEIA projects the state will add over 3,000 megawatts of solar over the next five years and improve its ranking to 19th.

While much of the focus has been on solar, wind has also seen significant expansions amid the renewable power boom. The amount of wind generation has nearly tripled nationwide since 2012, according to the Environment America Research and Policy Center.

Simon Mahan, executive director of the Southern Renewable Energy Association, says Louisiana has been importing cheap wind-generated electricity from other states over the past few years.

The transportation sector has also seen explosive growth with clean energy technologies. The number of plug-in electric vehicles increased nearly 13 fold, and the number of charging stations across the country increased by a multiple of nearly 20 since 2012, according to the SEIA.

Read the full story from Louisiana Illuminator.