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Oklahoma Emerges as Leader in Renewable Energy Growth

Oklahoma, Renewable Energy

Mineral Rights

Oklahoma, historically recognized as a top-five producer of oil and natural gas, is now rapidly gaining prominence in the renewable energy sector. From 2018 to 2023, Oklahoma increased its clean electricity generation by an impressive 35%, more than twice the national average and outpacing even California, a leader in clean energy. According to data from the energy think tank Ember, this surge signifies Oklahoma’s growing influence in the realm of renewable energy.

Additionally, Oklahoma’s power producers managed to cut fossil fuel-powered generation by nearly 12% since 2018, a reduction rate that is double the national average. This significant decrease also surpasses the fossil fuel use cuts seen in Texas and California during the same period. These efforts to boost clean power output and reduce fossil fuel dependency have helped Oklahoma cut its power sector emissions by 20% since 2018, a substantial improvement compared to the 7% reduction in Texas and the 14% drop in national emissions over the same period.

Thanks to continued expansion in wind generation capacity in 2024, Oklahoma is set to emerge as a pivotal player in national energy transition efforts. Despite being less renowned than other clean power states, Oklahoma’s advancements place it alongside major contributors to the renewable energy landscape.

Wind Power: The Driving Force

Oklahoma’s clean energy growth has been primarily driven by aggressive expansions in wind generation capacity. The share of wind in Oklahoma’s electricity mix soared from around 32% in 2018 to 42% in 2023. Over this five-year span, electricity generation from wind farms in Oklahoma increased by 38%, and in 2022, wind power surpassed all other sources to become the leading electricity provider in the state. Although natural gas reclaimed its position as Oklahoma’s primary power source in 2023, the sustained growth in wind capacity ensures that the share of clean power in the electricity mix continues to rise.

Between 2020 and 2023, Oklahoma’s wind capacity grew by an annual average of 1,049 megawatts (MW), a growth rate surpassed only by Texas. According to the energy data portal Cleanview, Oklahoma added 403 MW of wind capacity in the first quarter of 2024 alone, second only to Texas’ 449 MW. This trajectory indicates that Oklahoma could set a new state record for wind capacity additions in 2024.Oklahoma electricity generation by source

Reducing Carbon Intensity

Oklahoma’s push towards clean power is a relatively recent phenomenon. While Texas has been generating over 10% of its electricity from clean sources since 2000, Oklahoma only crossed the 10% threshold in 2012. However, clean power output in Oklahoma has accelerated rapidly since then, accounting for more than 40% of the state’s annual electricity supply since 2021. This shift from primarily fossil fuel-based to clean energy has led to a significant reduction in the state’s power sector carbon intensity.

From 2018 to 2023, the carbon intensity of Oklahoma’s electricity generation fell from approximately 384 grams of carbon dioxide (CO2) per kilowatt hour (KWh) to 297 grams of CO2 per KWh, a 23% reduction. This decline is significantly greater than the 14% national reduction over the same period and also exceeds the 10% drop in California and the 18% decrease in Texas. Oklahoma’s carbon intensity, once consistently above the national average until 2016, has since been consistently below the national average, reinforcing the state’s status as an emerging clean energy leader.

Broadening the Transition

Oklahoma’s energy consumers are also contributing to the state’s clean energy progress. In 2023, Oklahoma’s drivers posted the largest annual increase in electricity use for electric vehicle (EV) charging of all U.S. states. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the 74% jump in electricity demand for EV charging in Oklahoma significantly outpaced the growth rates in neighboring states and the national average of 45%. This trend underscores how household behavior can also drive power sector decarbonization.

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However, the state’s power producers remain the cornerstone of clean energy progress. As long as they continue to expand clean generation capacity and reduce fossil fuel use, Oklahoma could soon surpass its larger rivals and emerge as a key player in national energy transition efforts.

In summary, Oklahoma’s rapid advancements in renewable energy generation, particularly in wind power, and significant reductions in fossil fuel dependency and carbon emissions, position the state as a burgeoning leader in the clean energy sector. With continued efforts and sustained growth, Oklahoma is well on its way to becoming a new beacon of the national energy transition movement.

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