How does Ohio generate electricity?
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 47 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 34 percent of the electricity in Ohio is produced using natural gas.
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 15 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 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.
Ohio’s renewable energy portfolio standard
Ohio law contains a renewable energy portfolio standard that requires that 8.5 percent of electricity sold by Ohio’s electric distribution utilities or electric services companies must be generated from renewable energy sources by 2026.
The law sets annual benchmarks, or incremental percentage requirements for renewable energy for the utility and electric services companies. If the annual benchmarks are not met, they are subject to compliance payments. Utilities and electric services companies may purchase renewable energy credits to meet the renewable energy standard.