Maryland wraps around the Chesapeake Bay and extends west into the Appalachian region. The state’s population is concentrated in the central corridor from the northeastern Baltimore suburbs to the suburbs of Washington, DC; that corridor makes Maryland one of the most densely populated states in the nation. The western mountains and low-lying southern and eastern plains are largely rural, more lightly populated areas. East of the Chesapeake Bay, in an area known as the Eastern Shore, the land is flat with many wetlands, and the nearby ocean adds humidity and moderates the weather year-round. On the western side of the Bay, the coastal plain ends and the land begins its rise through rolling foothills to the mountain ranges of the Appalachians. Precipitation is fairly evenly distributed throughout the year and across the state. But, as the land rises, temperatures vary widely. In winter, the coastal areas average less than 4 inches of snow, while parts of the western mountains average more than 100 inches.
Maryland has few conventional energy resources. Some coal is mined in the far western counties, and power is generated at Maryland’s only nuclear power plant.Baltimore, Maryland, one of the top 20 ports in the nation, is a bustling seaport, handling both petroleum products and Appalachian coal. Maryland has some renewable resources. Rivers flowing down from the north and west provide Maryland with hydroelectric power, and solar photovoltaic (PV) facilities are located across the state. Winds on Maryland’s western mountain ridges and off the state’s Atlantic Ocean and southern Chesapeake Bay shorelines offer additional renewable resource potential.
Maryland gets more than four-fifths of the energy it consumes from out of state.
More than four-fifths of the energy consumed in Maryland comes from out of state. Maryland’s economy is not energy-intensive. Service industries contribute two-thirds to the state’s gross domestic product (GDP), while manufacturing, including the manufacture of chemicals and electronics, contributes less than 6% to the state’s GDP.The industrial sector consumes less than one-tenth of the energy used in Maryland, with the remaining end-use energy consumption divided fairly evenly between the residential sector, the transportation sector, and the commercial sector. Maryland’s per capita energy consumption ranks in the lowest one-fourth of states.
Renewable energy in Maryland currently provides less than one-tenth of in-state net electricity generation. The largest share of Maryland’s renewable electricity generation comes from hydroelectric facilities. The Conowingo hydroelectric power plant, one of the larger nonfederal hydroelectric projects in the United States, is a run-of-the-river facility that was built on the Susquehanna River in the late 1920s. The 572-megawatt Conowingo generating station provides almost all of Maryland’s hydroelectricity. A smaller 20-megawatt facility is located in western Maryland, and a new 13.4-megawatt hydroelectric project is planned on the Maryland-West Virginia border. Several small-scale (less than two-megawatt) hydroelectric power projects, some built as long ago as 1909, are scattered across the state.
Maryland’s renewable energy portfolio standard requires power from both solar and offshore wind.
Biomass provides the second-largest share of renewable generation in Maryland. Biomass is used to generate electricity at facilities that use landfill gas, municipal solid waste, poultry litter, and wood and wood waste. Maryland has many small landfill gas-to-energy facilities in cities around the state, but the state’s largest biomass electricity-generating capacity is provided by two facilities that use municipal solid waste, one in Montgomery County near Washington, DC, and the other in Baltimore. The Baltimore facility also generates steam for a downtown piping system that supplies heat to more than 200 businesses.
Wind energy in Maryland provides almost as much electricity as biomass does. Maryland’s greatest onshore utility-scale wind potential is in its western mountains and along the Eastern Shore’s shorelines. The state’s only operating wind farms, and most of its proposed wind energy projects, are along the western mountain crests, particularly Backbone Mountain, the highest point in the state. But Maryland’s largest wind energy potential is offshore. In August 2014, a federal sale awarded a lease for the development of a major offshore wind project off the Maryland coast.
Solar energy is providing a small but rapidly increasing amount of generation in Maryland. The state’s installed solar capacity is split between electric utility-scale projects and distributed (customer-sited) systems, such as rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) panels. As of early 2016, Maryland had about 465 megawatts of solar capacity installed, most of it at residential and commercial customer sites. One of the largest solar installations in Maryland is a utility-scale 20-megawatt solar PV project near Hagerstown. Maryland also has an incentives program for the production of both ethanol and biodiesel. Although there are no ethanol refineries in the state, there are two small biodiesel production facilities.
Maryland’s legislature first enacted a renewable portfolio standard (RPS) in 2004 and has amended it several times since then. In April 2016, Maryland’s legislature amended the RPS further, increasing the requirements for renewably sourced generation for all electricity sold in Maryland from 20% to 25% and moving up the compliance date to 2020 from 2022. The 25% of sales from renewable resources must include 2.5% from solar energy sources, up from 2%. The original RPS required that up to 2.5% of the standard be met by offshore wind resources by 2017, and that remains unchanged. The exact percentage is to be set by state regulators based on availability and cost of offshore wind energy.
Coal and nuclear power supply almost four-fifths of Maryland’s net electricity generation.
Nuclear and coal-fired power supply almost four-fifths of Maryland’s net electricity generation. Natural gas use has increased in the past decade, and it contributed more than one-eighth of the state’s net generation in 2015. Hydroelectric power makes up most of the balance, with other renewable energy sources supplying small amounts of net generation. Maryland’s only nuclear power plant, Calvert Cliffs, on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay, has consistently supplied about 14 million megawatthours of power annually, which typically accounts for between three-tenths and two-fifths of the state’s electricity generation. Coal-fired generating plants historically supplied more than half the state’s net electricity generation, but since 2012 that share has fallen to less than two-fifths as natural gas-fired generation has increased. Construction of several new natural gas-fired facilities is planned over the next 10 years. Some of Maryland’s coal-fired generating stations are dual-fueled and are able to burn natural gas or petroleum in addition to coal. Overall, fossil fuels provide about half of the state’s net generation but make up about four-fifths of Maryland’s utility-scale generating capacity.
Several coal-fired units in Maryland have been upgraded with new emission controls to meet federal requirements. However, generating facilities in the state have also requested deactivation of some units because of the low cost of natural gas and the high cost of new emission control equipment at coal-fired facilities. In 2012, one of Maryland’s smaller coal-fired power plants opted to shut down rather than upgrade. All but one of Maryland’s coal-fired power plants are more than 30 years old, and about one-third of the state’s coal-fired generating capacity is scheduled for retirement between 2015 and 2020.
Maryland’s electricity consumption exceeds its net generation. About half of the power consumed in the state comes from the PJM Interconnection, the Mid-Atlantic regional electricity transmission grid. Maryland brings more electricity into the state as a percentage of sales than almost any other state in the nation. The state has encouraged construction of new power plants to meet growing electricity demand and has also pursued efficiency goals to reduce both peak electricity demand and per capita electricity usage. Maryland’s per capita electricity consumption, which has fallen since energy efficiency goals were set in 2008, is below the U.S. average. More than nine-tenths of the electricity consumed in Maryland is used by the commercial sector and the residential sector. Two in five Maryland households use electricity as their primary heating source.
Maryland’s westernmost counties overlie part of the natural gas-rich Marcellus Shale.
Maryland produces very little natural gas. Most of the natural gas wells in the state are storage wells, but a few low-production wells in far western Maryland produce less than 50 million cubic feet of natural gas annually.However, the state’s three westernmost counties-Allegany, Garrett, and Washington-overlie part of the natural gas-rich Marcellus Shale, which is highly productive in nearby Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Garrett County and western Allegany County are expected to have producible Marcellus reserves. In 2015, Maryland’s legislature placed a two-year moratorium on hydraulic fracturing, and new permits to drill wells using hydraulic fracturing cannot be issued before October 1, 2017. One county in the state with potential untapped natural gas reserves has banned hydraulic fracturing altogether.
Natural gas supplies enter Maryland by way of a half dozen interstate pipelines and from one natural gas utility whose distribution area crosses state lines. Most of Maryland’s natural gas supply is delivered by major pipelines that transport natural gas from the Southwest and the Gulf Coast region, as well as from other areas along the interstate pipeline systems’ routes. The state also gets some of its natural gas supply by pipeline from Appalachia, including Pennsylvania, while Maryland’s Eastern Shore receives natural gas via pipeline from Pennsylvania by way of Delaware. Almost two-fifths of the natural gas entering Maryland is consumed in-state; the remainder continues on to the neighboring states of Virginia and Pennsylvania, as well as to the District of Columbia. Some natural gas enters the state as liquefied natural gas (LNG) at an import terminal at Cove Point, Maryland, on the Chesapeake Bay’s western shore. Cove Point is 1 of 11 existing LNG import facilities in the United States. LNG imports have decreased substantially with declining U.S. natural gas prices and growing domestic supply. Cove Point’s owner has obtained the necessary approvals to export LNG and is constructing a liquefaction plant and export terminal facilities. Export operations are expected to begin in late 2017. The terminal is connected by pipeline to several major interstate natural gas pipeline systems.
Four-fifths of Maryland’s natural gas is consumed by the residential sector and the commercial sector. Almost half of Maryland households use natural gas as their primary fuel for home heating. Maryland’s per capita natural gas use is among the lowest in the nation.
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