Missouri ranks No. 2 in the U.S. for its share of energy produced through the use of coal, but multiple planned projects and emerging power sources are beginning to gain a foothold, according to a new report.
The latest Missouri Economy Indicators study published by the University of Missouri Extension shows 74 percent of Missouri's energy was provided by coal in 2021, second only to West Virginia. While the state's ranking has remained high, coal's share of the energy market has decreased substantially from its high of 83 percent in 2010, according to data compiled from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).
Renewable energy generation, meanwhile, hit a new high last year. Solar, wind, hydro and other renewable sources generated almost 12 percent of the state's share of power, marking the first time it has exceeded 10 percent, the data showed.
Renewable sources -- excluding hydro -- rose from 1 percent of the power generated in the state to 9 percent between 2010-21, the report found. Natural gas, meanwhile, rose from 5 percent to 9 percent.
Analysis from EIA shows the cost for building out and operating these newer methods of generation are comparable: Natural gas projects are estimated to cost around $37.05 per megawatt hour, while solar projects typically cost around $36.09 and onshore wind operations cost $37.80 on average.
"This means that investments in renewable energy facilities will likely continue as a source of new electricity generation," according to the the report, written by associate Extension professor Adrienne Ohler and assistant Extension professor Alan Spell. "The typical time for a project to go from connection request to commercial operation is approximately four years, but that timeline increased by two years from projects connecting between 2000 and 2010."
Most of the projects proposed for the Show-Me State are solar operations, making up about 64 percent of these planned developments and 97 percent of the total capacity these projects would add. Wind projects make up about 21 percent, while 9 percent would use batteries to create a steadier power supply and less than 6 percent are hydroelectric or gas proposals.
Proposed energy capacity projects are mainly concentrated in the Kansas City, Joplin and Bootheel regions, though Mid-Missouri also has a handful of projects proposed for surrounding counties, including a solar proposal that would take up hundreds of acres in Callaway County.
While these projects have yet to make their own impact on the grid, the report noted Missouri already has a substantial clean energy footprint with the third-largest biodiesel production capacity. The renewable fuel source, which is made from soybean oil and animal fats, was studied extensively in the Mid-Missouri area to gauge its efficacy as a fuel source, and Jefferson City is home to the nationwide Clean Fuels Alliance America.
The group, which advocates for biodiesel and other renewable fuel sources on the national level, also supported this summer's push in the Missouri Legislature to extend tax credits supporting biodiesel producers. As soybeans are another major agricultural product for the state, Clean Fuels CEO Donnell Rehagen previously said the emerging industry presented a boon for producers and consumers alike.
The state's tax credit program will allow retailers to claim a tax credit of 2-5 cents per gallon for diesel sold with a biodiesel blend, based on whether the blend is more than 10 percent biodiesel or less. That credit, one of a myriad of state programs of a similar nature, is capped at $16 million a year. On the federal side, the U.S. Department of Agriculture offers loan financing and grant funding to agriculture producers and small businesses to make energy improvements or switch to renewable energy systems.
Utility providers, including Ameren Missouri and the state's rural electric cooperatives, are also leading with a focus on renewable generation and clean energy.
While the future of energy generation for the Show-Me State is likely to see a larger renewable footprint in the future, EIA data noted the state consumes nearly eight times as much energy as it produces and ranks sixth for per-capita energy use. Electricity is transported to and from Missouri through regional transmission organizations, multi-state systems that balance supply and demand and manage the grid within their territories.
Read the full report at extension.missouri.edu.