The Driving Forces of U.S. Renewable Energy Consumption—a Longitudinal Analysis of Data from 1997 to 2019

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Climate change is a major challenge facing the United States today. Recent years have witnessed a surge of extreme weather events that brought devastating impacts on the economy and environment. One major contributor to climate change is CO2 emissions produced from fossil fuel consumption. Promoting renewable energy is one practical pathway to mitigate these emissions while also meeting energy demands. This study investigates the driving forces of U.S. renewable energy consumption. The data are a balanced panel that includes indicators for 50 states and Washington, DC, from 1997 to 2019. The time-series Prais–Winsten regression is adopted for statistical estimation. Results show that states consume more renewable energy when they have less carbon-intensive economies and suffer more climate change impacts. Also, the renewable portfolio standards represent an effective policy instrument to promote renewable consumption. The findings complement existing literature and carry policy implications. Notably, states become supportive of renewable energy when their economies are less intertwined with fossil fuels and relevant policies are in place to provide incentives for renewables.

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Sociological Spectrum, v. 43, issue 1, p. 1-15