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Iowa   Iowa Profile

State Profile and Energy Estimates

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Last Updated: May 21, 2020

Located between the Mississippi and Missouri rivers, Iowa's gently rolling plains have some of the richest farmland in the nation and significant renewable energy resources. The state's climate, with rainfall in the growing season and dry air at harvest, together with Iowa's deep topsoils, produce abundant grain crops.1 The state leads the nation in the production of both corn and ethanol.2,3 Unobstructed winds blow across Iowa's open prairie, giving the state significant wind energy resources.4 With many days of sunshine each year, Iowa has solar energy potential as well.5,6 However, the state has few fossil energy reserves and no crude oil, natural gas or coal production.7,8,9,10

Manufacturing and agriculture help make Iowa the fifth-largest energy-consuming state on a per capita basis.

On a per capita basis, Iowa is the only non-crude oil producing state among the top 5 total energy-consuming states. Iowa ranks fifth in the nation in energy use per capita, mainly because of the state's small population and its large industrial sector.11 The industrial sector leads Iowa's end-use energy consumption, accounting for more than half of the state total.12 Agriculture, food production, biofuels production, and manufacturing are key Iowa industries.13 Iowa ranks among the top 10 states in the nation in the share of gross domestic product (GDP) from manufacturing. Iowa's manufactured products include food and beverages; machinery; chemicals; computers and electronics; fabricated metals; motor vehicles and transportation equipment; and plastics and rubber products.14,15 The transportation sector is the second-largest end-use energy consumer, accounting for about one-fifth of the state's total. Energy consumption is almost equally divided between the residential and commercial sectors, which together account for about one-fourth of the total state energy use.16

Renewable energy

Iowa produces more fuel ethanol and biodiesel than any other state in the nation.

Iowa is the leading ethanol-producing state in the nation and has one-fourth of U.S. fuel ethanol production capacity. The state's ethanol plants can produce nearly 4.5 billion gallons per year. Iowa's fertile cornfields provide the feedstock for most of the state's 42 ethanol plants.17,18,19 Iowa also leads the nation in biodiesel production. Its 10 biodiesel plants use soy oil, corn oil, vegetable oils, and animal fats as feedstocks. Those plants have a combined production capacity of 445 million gallons per year, which is almost one-fifth the nation's total capacity and the largest biodiesel production capacity of any state.20,21,22

About 42% of Iowa’s electric net generation comes from wind, the largest share of any state.

More than two-fifths of Iowa's electricity net generation comes from renewable resources, almost all of it from wind.23 In 2019, the state was the third-largest wind power producer, after Texas and Oklahoma. Wind energy from about 5,100 turbines powered 42% of Iowa's net generation, the highest share of any state, as more wind power generating capacity came online.24,25,26 The strongest winds occur in northwestern Iowa, and although there are wind power generating sites across the state, most of the wind farms are located in the state's northern and western areas.27,28

In 2019, about 2% of Iowa's electricity net generation came from renewable energy resources other than wind. Biomass and solar energy each contributed a small amount the state's electricity, and almost all of the remaining renewable generation came from hydroelectric power.29 The largest of Iowa's three hydroelectric power plants—the Keokuk plant with 15 turbine-generator units and 142 megawatts of generating capacity—is more than 100 years old and the largest privately-owned and operated dam and hydroelectric plant on the Mississippi River.30,31 The state's biomass resources include landfill gas and agricultural biodigesters that produce methane gas that fuels generating facilities. Iowa's biomass resources also provide feedstock to the state's one wood pellet plant, which can process wood waste into up to 15,000 tons of pellets annually.32,33,34,35 A small, but growing, amount of solar power in the state mostly comes from customer-sited, small-scale generating systems.36 Iowa's best solar power resource potential is found in the southwestern corner of the state.37

In 1983, Iowa became the first state in the nation to adopt a renewable portfolio standard (RPS). State regulators required Iowa's two investor-owned electric utilities to own or to contract for a combined total of 105 megawatts of generating capacity that was powered by renewable energy.38 Capacity from eligible renewable resources has far exceeded the RPS goals. At the beginning of 2020, Iowa had about 10,400 megawatts of generating capacity fueled by renewable sources at utility-scale power facilities.39

In 2008, state regulators also established energy efficiency standards for each regulated electric and natural gas utility in the state. Municipal and cooperative utilities were required to set their own energy efficiency goals. The utilities could increase efficiency and reduce consumption with improved infrastructure or through customer programs.40 Since 2004, all electric utilities operating in the state have been required to offer their customers the option of purchasing alternative electricity supplies generated by wind, solar and other renewables. This program was designed to enable customers to support the development of renewable energy sources in the state.41

Electricity

In 2019, wind turbines in Iowa generated more electricity than the state's coal-fired power plants for the first time. Coal generated 35% of the state's net electricity, down from 59% five years earlier. During the same period, wind power grew from 29% of the state's net generation to 42% in 2019. However, five of Iowa's 10 largest power plants by generating capacity are coal-fired, and only one wind farm is in the top 10.42,43

Natural gas-fired power plants contributed 13% of Iowa's in-state generation in 2019, with total generation from natural gas reaching a record high. Nuclear power provided nearly 8% of the state's electricity generation.44 Iowa's only nuclear power plant, the 601-megawatt Duane Arnold power plant, is the fourth-smallest operating nuclear power reactor in the nation.45 The state's remaining 2% of generation came from hydropower, biomass, petroleum, and solar.46

Since 2008, Iowa has generated more electricity each year than the state consumed.47 Almost half of electricity retail sales in Iowa go to the industrial sector, nearly three-tenths of power sales are to the residential sector, and the commercial sector accounts for about one-fourth.48 Iowa's average electricity price for all sectors is below the median price for the states.49 About one in five Iowa households rely on electricity for home heating.50

Petroleum

Iowa is not a crude oil-producing state and does not have any proved oil reserves.51,52 Of the more than 100 exploratory wells drilled in the state, only a handful ever produced oil. Those wells are no longer producing, and their combined production was less than 500 barrels of crude oil.53,54 Iowa does not have any oil refineries and relies on pipelines to bring petroleum products from other states.55 Nearly 12,000 miles of petroleum product pipelines cross the state.56

About two-fifths of the petroleum consumed in Iowa is used as motor gasoline.57 Conventional motor gasoline without ethanol can be sold statewide in Iowa, although almost all U.S. gasoline is blended with at least 10% ethanol.58,59 Nearly 300 fueling stations in Iowa dispense E85, a blend of motor gasoline with 85% ethanol.60,61

Iowa’s residential sector consumption of propane is almost triple the national rate.

Iowa ranks fourth among the states in hydrocarbon gas liquids (HGL) consumption. About two-thirds of the HGL is consumed by the state's industrial sector, where propane is used by farmers to dry their corn after harvest in wet years.62,63 About one in eight Iowa households heats with propane, almost triple the national rate.64

Coal

Coal mining began in Iowa in the 1840s and continued until the 1990s. Most of the coal mines were located in the southern half of the state and supplied the coal needed to run the railroads that first reached Iowa in the 1860s.65 Today, there are no active coal mines in Iowa, but the state still has more than 1.1 billion tons of estimated recoverable coal reserves, located primarily in south-central Iowa.66,67

Almost all of the coal consumed in Iowa is subbituminous coal brought by rail from Wyoming and delivered to power plants. A few small coal shipments from Wyoming and several other states are also delivered to Iowa's industrial, commercial, and institutional users.68,69 In 2018, Iowa ranked 15th among the states in the most coal use for electricity generation.70

Natural gas

Iowa does not have any natural gas reserves or production, but the state is crossed by several interstate natural gas pipeline systems and has four natural gas storage fields that together account for about 3% of U.S. storage capacity.71,72,73,74 Natural gas enters Iowa by pipelines primarily from Minnesota, Nebraska, and Missouri. About four-fifths of the natural gas that enters Iowa exists the state, and continues on to Illinois and Minnesota on its way to markets in those states and farther east.75,76,77

Natural gas accounts for almost one-fifth of the total energy consumed in Iowa.78 In 2018, 59% of the natural gas delivered to users in the state was consumed in the industrial sector. The residential sector, where 6 out of 10 households use natural gas as their primary heating fuel, accounted for about 16% of the natural gas delivered to consumers in Iowa. The commercial sector used 13%, and 11% of the natural gas consumed in Iowa was used for electric power generation.79,80

Endnotes

1 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Climatic Data Center, Climate of Iowa, accessed March 30, 2020.
2 National Agriculture in the Classroom, A Look at Iowa Agriculture, updated July 2019.
3 U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), State Energy Data System, Table P4, Primary Energy Production Estimates in Physical Units, Ranked by State, 2017.
4 U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, WINDExchange, Wind Energy in Iowa, Maps & Data, accessed March 30, 2020.
5 Current Results, Weather and Science Facts, Days of Sunshine per Year in Iowa, accessed March 30, 2020.
6 U.S. Department of Energy, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Geospatial Data Science, Solar Resource Maps, Iowa, accessed March 30, 2020.
7 U.S. EIA, Annual Coal Report 2018 (October 3, 2019), Table 15, Recoverable Coal Reserves at Producing Mines, Estimated Recoverable Reserves, and Demonstrated Reserve Base by Mining Method, 2018.
8 U.S. EIA, Natural Gas Gross Withdrawals and Production, Gross Withdrawals, Annual-Million Cubic Feet, 2014-19.
9 U.S. EIA, Crude Oil Production, Annual-Thousand Barrels per Day, 2013-18.
10 U.S. EIA, Annual Coal Report 2018 (October 3, 2019), Table 1, Coal Production and Number of Mines by State and Mine Type, 2018 and 2017.
11 U.S. EIA, State Energy Data System, Table C13, Energy Consumption Estimates per Capita by End-Use Sector, Ranked by State, 2017.
12 U.S. EIA, State Energy Data System, Table C1, Energy Consumption Overview: Estimates by Energy Source and End-Use Sector, 2017.
13 Iowa Area Development Group, Target Industries, accessed March 30, 2020.
14 Iowa State University, Office of Economic Development and Industry Relations, Manufacturing in Iowa (July 2015), p. 1, 4.
15 U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, Interactive Data, Regional Data, GDP & Personal Income, Annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by State, GDP in current dollars, Iowa, All Statistics in Table, 2017.
16 U.S. EIA, State Energy Data System, Table C10, Energy Consumption Estimates by End-Use Sector, Ranked by State, 2017.
17 U.S. EIA, State Energy Data System, Table P4, Primary Energy Production Estimates in Physical Units, Ranked by State, 2017.
18 U.S. EIA, U.S. Fuel Ethanol Plant Production Capacity (August 26, 2019), Detailed nameplate capacity of fuel ethanol plants by Petroleum Administration for Defense District (PADD District) are available in XLS.
19 U.S. Ethanol Plants, Operational, Ethanol Producer Magazine, updated February 24, 2020.
20 U.S. Plants, Operational, Biodiesel Magazine, updated December 5, 2019.
21 Iowa Biodiesel Board, Quick Facts, Iowa Biodiesel at a Glance, accessed April 28, 2020.
22 U.S. EIA, Monthly Biodiesel Production Report (March 31, 2020), Table 4, Biodiesel producers and production capacity by state, January 2020.
23 U. S. EIA, Electricity Data Browser, Net generation for all sectors (thousand megawatthours), Annual, 2016-19.
24 U.S. EIA, Electric Power Monthly (February 2020),Tables 1.3.B, 1.11.B, 1.14.B.
25 American Wind Energy Association, Wind Energy in Iowa, accessed March 31, 2020.
26 U.S. EIA, "Wind and natural gas-fired generators led U.S. power sector capacity additions in 2019," Today in Energy (April 21, 2020).
27 U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, WINDExchange, Wind Energy in Iowa, Maps & Data, accessed March 31, 2020.
28 U.S. EIA, Iowa Profile Overview, Map, Layers/Legend: Wind Power Plant, accessed March 31, 2020.
29 U.S. EIA, Electricity Data Browser, Net generation for all sectors (thousand megawatthours), Annual, 2016-19.
30 U.S. EIA, Electricity, Preliminary Monthly Electric Generator Inventory (based on Form EIA-860M as a supplement to Form EIA-860), Inventory of Operating Generators as of January 2020, Iowa, Technology: Conventional Hydroelectric.
31 Martin, Kent, "Keokuk Energy Center: Harnessing the Power of the Mississippi," Hydropower.com (November 7, 2013).
32 U.S. EIA, Electricity, Preliminary Monthly Electric Generator Inventory (based on Form EIA-860M as a supplement to Form EIA-860), Inventory of Operating Generators as of January 2020, Iowa, Technology: Landfill gas, Other Waste Biomass.
33 TrackMyElectricity, AgriReNew Methane Center, About, accessed March 31, 2020.
34 U.S. Pellet Plants, operational, Biomass Magazine, updated January 14, 2020.
35 U.S. EIA, Monthly Densified Biomass Fuel Report (April 15, 2020), Highlights, Table 1, Densified biomass fuel manufacturing facilities in the United States by state, region, and capacity, January 2020, Download.
36 U.S. EIA, Electricity Data Browser, Net generation for all sectors (thousand megawatthours), Annual, 2015-18.
37 National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Solar Resource Data, Tools, and Map, U.S. Annual Solar GHI, Iowa, February 22, 2018.
38 NC Clean Energy Technology Center, DSIRE, Iowa Alternative Energy Law, updated June 28, 2018.
39 U.S. EIA, Electric Power Monthly (January 2020), Table 6.2.A.
40 NC Clean Energy Technology Center, DSIRE, Iowa Energy Efficiency Standard, updated December 9, 2016.
41 NC Clean Energy Technology Center, DSIRE, Iowa Mandatory Utility Green Power Option, updated January 29, 2016.
42 U.S. EIA, Electricity Data Browser, Net generation for all sectors (thousand megawatthours), Annual, 2016-19.
43 U.S. EIA, Iowa Electricity Profile 2018, Table 2A, Ten largest plants by capacity, 2018.
44 U.S. EIA, Electricity Data Browser, Net generation for all sectors (thousand megawatthours), Annual, 2016-19.
45 U.S. EIA, Nuclear Reactor, State, and Net Capacity, December 2019.
46 U.S. EIA, Electricity Data Browser, Net generation for all sectors (thousand megawatthours), Annual, 2016-19.
47 U.S. EIA, Iowa Electricity Profile 2018, Table 10, Supply and disposition of electricity, 1990 through 2018.
48 U.S. EIA, Electricity Data Browser, Retail sales of electricity (million kilowatthours), 2016-19.
49 U.S. EIA, Electric Power Monthly (February 2020), Table 5.6.B.
50 U.S. Census Bureau, House Heating Fuel, Table B25040, 2018 ACS 1-Year Estimates Detailed Tables, Iowa.
51 U.S. EIA, Crude Oil Production, Annual-Thousand Barrels, 2013-18.
52 U.S. EIA, Crude Oil Proved Reserves, Reserves Changes, and Production, Proved Reserves as of 12/31, Annual, 2013-18.
53 Anderson, Raymond R., Oil Exploration in Iowa, adapted from Iowa Geology 1992, No. 17, Centennial Edition, Iowa Department of Natural Resources.
54 McKay, Robert M., Mineral Resource Facts, Energy Resources, Oil and Gas, accessed April 2, 2020.
55 U.S. EIA, Number and Capacity of Petroleum Refineries, Total Number of Operable Refineries as of January 1, 2014-19.
56 U.S. Department of Energy, State of Iowa Energy Sector Risk Profile, p. 4, accessed April 2, 2020.
57 U.S. EIA, State Energy Data System, Table C2, Energy Consumption Estimates for Major Energy Sources in Physical Units, 2017.
58 Gardner, K. W., U.S. Gasoline Requirements, American Petroleum Institute (January 2018).
59 U.S. EIA, "Almost all U.S. gasoline is blended with 10% ethanol," Today in Energy (May 4, 2016).
60 U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Alternative Fuels Data Center, Alternative Fueling Station Locator, Ethanol (E85), Iowa, accessed April 2, 2020.
61 Hardy, Kevin, "Why Iowans will likely see more E15 and E85 gas at the pump soon," Des Moines Register (June 5, 2017).
62 U.S. EIA, "Propane Use for Crop Drying Depends on Weather and Corn Markets as well as Crop Size," Today in Energy (October 2, 2014).
63 U.S. EIA, State Energy Data System, Table F11, Hydrocarbon Gas Liquids Consumption Estimates, 2018.
64 U.S. Census Bureau, House Heating Fuel, Table B25040, 2018 ACS 1-Year Estimates Detailed Tables, Iowa, United States.
65 Hoehnle, Peter, "Types of Business and Industry," Iowa Pathways, accessed April 2, 2020.
66 U.S. EIA, Annual Coal Report 2018 (October 3, 2019), Table 1, Coal Production and Number of Mines by State and Mine Type, 2018 and 2017.
67 U.S. EIA, Annual Coal Report 2018 (October 3, 2019), Table 15, Recoverable Coal Reserves at Producing Mines, Estimated Recoverable Reserves, and Demonstrated Reserve Base by Mining Method, 2018.
68 U.S. EIA, Annual Coal Distribution Report 2018 (October 3, 2019), Iowa, Table DS-14, Domestic Coal Distribution, by Destination State, 2018.
69 U.S. EIA, Annual Coal Report 2018 (October 3, 2019), Table 6, Coal Production and Number of Mines by State and Coal Rank, 2018.
70 U.S. EIA, Electric Power Monthly (February 2020), Table 4.6.B.
71 U.S. EIA, Natural Gas Reserves Summary as of Dec. 31, Dry Natural Gas, Annual, 2013-18.
72 U.S. EIA, Natural Gas Gross Withdrawal and Production, Gross Withdrawals, Annual-Million Cubic Feet, 2014-19.
73 U.S. EIA, Iowa Profile Overview, Map, Layers/Legend: Natural Gas Inter/Intrastate Pipeline, accessed April 13, 2020.
74 U.S. EIA, Underground Natural Gas Storage Capacity, Total Number of Existing Fields, 2013-18 and Total Storage Capacity, Annual, 2013-18.
75 U.S. EIA, International and Interstate Movements of Natural Gas by State, Iowa, Annual, 2013-18.
76 U.S. EIA, About U.S. Natural Gas Pipelines, Natural Gas Pipelines in the Midwest Region, accessed April 13, 2020.
77 U.S. EIA, About U.S. Natural Gas Pipelines, Natural Gas Pipelines in the Central Region, accessed April 13, 2020.
78 U.S. EIA, State Energy Data System, Table C1, Energy Consumption Overview: Estimates by Energy Source and End-Use Sector, 2017.
79 U.S. Census Bureau, House Heating Fuel, Table B25040, 2018 ACS 1-Year Estimates Detailed Tables, Iowa.
80 U.S. EIA, Natural Gas Consumption by End Use, Iowa, Annual, 2014-19.