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How does Ohio generate electricity?

March 31, 2017

In Ohio, electricity is mainly generated using resources like coal, natural gas and nuclear. While these resources are found naturally in the earth and produce large amounts of electricity, nonrenewable resources take a long time to form, and there is a limited supply available for people to use for power generation. 

Renewable resources including hydropower, wind, biomass and solar energy are also used to produce electricity, but often on a smaller scale. These resources are readily available in nature and can be replenished relatively quickly. 

Coal, a nonrenewable fossil fuel, is used to generate approximately 59 percent of the electricity in Ohio. Coal is burned to produce heat, which converts water into high-pressure steam. The steam turns the blades of a turbine that is connected to a generator. The generator spins and converts mechanical energy to electricity.

Natural gas, a nonrenewable fossil fuel, can either be burned to produce steam or to produce hot combustion gas that passes through the turbine blades. Approximately 23 percent of the electricity in Ohio is produced using natural gas.

Petroleum, a nonrenewable fossil fuel, is burned to create steam to turn the turbine blades. The most common form of petroleum used to make electricity is fuel oil, a type of oil that is refined from crude oil. Petroleum generates approximately 1 percent of Ohio electricity.

Nuclear power involves a process called fission in which the atoms of the element uranium split, releasing heat to turn water into steam and rotate the turbine blades. Nuclear power is nonrenewable and is used to generate about 14 percent of Ohio electricity.

In hydropower generation, flowing water is used to spin the turbine connected to the generator. Hydropower plants can use the current from a river or falling water that has accumulated in a dam to create the force needed to turn the turbine blades. Hydropower and the other renewable resources described below currently account for about 2.3 percent of electric generation in Ohio.

Wind turbines harness the force of the natural wind to turn the generator turbine.

Solar power uses photovoltaic cells to harness the energy of the sun to produce electricity.

Geothermal energy involves the heat buried beneath the surface of the earth. This heat transforms water into steam, which is then tapped to be used at steam-turbine plants.

Biomass energy resources include wood and wood wastes, landfill gas, biogas from food processing waste, animal waste, sewage sludge, and potential energy crops.

2016 Ohio net electricity generation by source

Source: USEIA 2016

Snapshot of existing and planned renewable energy facilities in Ohio

Wind (5MW or greater)

  • Blue Creek Wind Farm, 152 turbines, 304 MW*
  • Timber Road Wind Farm II, 55 turbines, 99 MW*
  • AMP-Bowling Green, 4 turbines, 7.2 MW*
  • Northwest Ohio Wind, 59 turbines, 100 MW**
  • Hardin Wind Farm, 200 turbines, 300 MW***
  • Scioto Ridge, 172 turbines, 300 MW***
  • Black Fork, 91 turbines, 200 MW***
  • Buckeye II Wind Farm, 56 turbines, 140 MW***
  • Buckeye Wind Farm, 54 turbines, 135 MW***
  • Timber Road Wind Farm I & III, 66 turbines, 99 MW***
  • Hog Creek Wind Farm I & II, 41 turbines, 67 MW***

**Under construction
***Approved (not yet under construction)

Solar (1.5 MW or greater)

  • Wyandot Solar Energy Generation Facility, 12 MW
  • BNB Napoleon Solar, 9.8 MW
  • Celina Solar Project, 5 MW
  • First Solar Perrysburg Array, 2.4 MW
  • Oberlin Spear Point Solar One, 2.3 MW
  • Cedarville University, 2.2 MW
  • GM Lordstown, 2.2 MW
  • Staples-London, 2.2 MW
  • Bryan Municipal Utilities, 2 MW
  • Springfield Solar, 1.8 MW
  • Melink Solar Canopy at Cincinnati Zoo, 1.6 MW

Hydro and other

  • Approximately 130 MW hydroelectric capacity statewide
  • 21 landfill gas projects of which nine generate electricity for a total capacity of about 70 MW
  • Biomass generation using waste residue to generate heat and power onsite in the wood manufacturing and paper industries

Last updated 10/2/15 

    Ohio’s renewable energy portfolio standard

    Ohio law contains an renewable energy portfolio standard that requires that 12.5 percent of electricity sold by Ohio’s electric distribution utilities or electric services companies must be generated from renewable energy sources by 2027

    The law sets annual benchmarks, or incremental percentage requirements for renewable energy, through 2027. Each utility and electric services company is subject to compliance payments if the annual benchmarks are not met. Utilities and electric services companies may purchase renewable energy credits to meet the renewable energy standard.