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Kansas Makes Good Use Of Wind Power, But Other Renewables ... Not So Much

Wind turbines at the Post Rock wind facility near Ellsworth.
Brian Grimmett
Kansas News Service
Wind turbines at the Post Rock wind facility near Ellsworth.

Wichita  Kansas is a national leader in wind energy, but a new report shows the state lags in the adoption of other so-called green technologies.

Find out how Kansas compares to the rest of the country.


Kansas and other Plains states produce the majority of the nation’s wind energy. While that’s mostly because the area has the highest average sustained wind speeds, the leading wind states have put in place regulatory policy and tax incentives aimed at attracting wind developers.

In 2018, developers installed 543 megawatts of new wind generation in Kansas, according to a new U.S. Department of Energy study. That’s good enough for sixth in the country.


As far as overall capacity, Kansas ranks fifth.


And since 2009, the amount of wind-generated electricity produced in Kansas has grown sevenfold, the third most of any state during the same time period.


Like with wind, Kansas is in a great position to turn abundant solar radiation into electricity.

Unlike with wind, it hasn’t.

A report from the environmental advocacy group Environment America ranks Kansas 45th in solar energy growth from 2009 to 2018.


In 2018, only 36 gigawatt hours (GWh) were produced in the state. That’s compared to nearly 40,000 GWh coming from the nation’s top state, California.


Everything Else

Kansas has adopted other new green technologies slower than most of the country, too. Cumulative electric vehicle sales in Kansas through 2018 is only 2,621 vehicles — ranking 33rd among U.S. states.

Major electric utility companies in Kansas haven’t invested in any large-scale battery storage projects, either. That’s not unique — it’s a relatively new technology — but the Environment America report shows adoption in the rest of the country is growing quickly.

But thanks to Kansas’ quick adoption of wind energy and developers’ willingness to build here, the state still ranks high when it comes to the amount of renewable energy it produces in relation to how much energy it consumes.

In 2018, 47% of the electricity the state used came from wind or solar, the second- highest percentage in the country.

Brian Grimmett reports on the environment, energy and natural resources for KMUW in Wichita and the Kansas News Service. You can follow him on Twitter @briangrimmett or email him at grimmett (at) kmuw (dot) org. The Kansas News Service is a collaboration of KCUR, Kansas Public Radio, KMUW and High Plains Public Radio focused on the health and well-being of Kansans, their communities and civic life.

Kansas News Service stories and photos may be republished by news media at no cost with proper attribution and a link to ksnewsservice.org.

Copyright 2019 KMUW | NPR for Wichita

Brian Grimmett comes to KMUW after taking a year break from journalism, but he’s excited to jump back in to the fray. Previously, Brian spent almost five years working at KUER 90.1 FM in Salt Lake City. He worked his way up, starting as an intern and sticking around long enough until they relented and gave him a full-time job. At KUER, Brian covered a wide range of topics, but mainly focused on covering the Utah state legislature.