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Iowa   Iowa Profile

State Profile and Energy Estimates

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Profile AnalysisPrint State Energy Profile
(overview, data, & analysis)

Last Updated: June 17, 2021

Overview

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 topsoil, 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 economically recoverable fossil energy reserves and no crude oil, natural gas, or coal production.7,8,9,10

Iowa ranks among the top 10 states in total industrial sector energy use.

Iowa is the only non-crude oil-producing state among the top five states in total energy consumption per capita. 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 slightly more than half of the state total.12 Iowa ranks among the top 10 states in total industrial sector energy use.13 Agriculture, food production, biofuels production, and manufacturing are key Iowa industries.14 The state's major manufactured products include chemicals; computers and electronics; food and beverages; motor vehicles and parts; other transportation equipment; and machinery.15 The transportation sector is the second-largest energy user, accounting for almost one-fifth of the state's total. The residential sector makes up about one-seventh of the state's energy consumption and the commercial sector accounts for about one-eighth.16

Renewable energy

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

Iowa is the top ethanol-producing state in the nation and has one-fourth of total 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 have a combined production capacity of 459 million gallons per year, which is almost one-fifth of the nation's total capacity and the largest biodiesel production capacity of any state.20,21

In 2020, three-fifths of Iowa's total electricity net generation came from renewable resources, almost all of it from wind.22 The state was the second-largest wind power producer, after Texas. Wind energy powered 57% of Iowa's net generation, the highest share of any state, as about 1,500 megawatts of new wind power generating capacity came online in 2020.23,24 The strongest winds occur in northwestern Iowa, and although there are wind power farms across the state, most are in the state's northern and western areas.25,26

About 2% of Iowa's electricity net generation came from renewable energy resources other than wind, with hydroelectric power, solar energy, and biomass each contributing a small amount of the state's electricity.27 The largest of Iowa's three hydroelectric power plants—the Keokuk plant with 15 turbine generators and 142 megawatts of generating capacity—is almost 110 years old. It is the largest privately-owned and operated dam and hydroelectric plant on the Mississippi River.28,29 A small, but growing, amount of solar power in the state mostly comes from customer-sited, small-scale generating systems (less than 1 megawatt each).30 The state's largest solar generating facility, the 3.4-megawatt West Dubuque Solar Farm, came online in 2017.31 Iowa's best solar power resource potential is found in the southwestern corner of the state.32 The state's biomass resources include landfill gas and agricultural biodigesters that produce methane gas; both fuel 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.33,34,35,36

In 2020, 57% of Iowa’s total electricity net generation came from wind, the largest wind power share of any state.

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 105 megawatts of total renewable generating capacity.37 Capacity from eligible renewable resources has far exceeded the RPS goals. At the beginning of 2021, Iowa had nearly 11,500 megawatts of generating capacity fueled by renewable sources at utility-scale (1 megawatt or larger) power facilities.38

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 were allowed to increase efficiency and reduce consumption with improved infrastructure or through customer programs.39,40

Electricity

In 2019, wind turbines in Iowa generated more electricity than the state's coal-fired power plants for the first time. Coal-fired generation continued to decrease in 2020, providing 24% of the state's net electricity, down from 53% five years earlier. During the same period, wind power grew from 32% of the state's net generation to 57% in 2020. However, five of Iowa's 10 largest power plants by generating capacity are coal-fired, and only two wind farms are in the top 10.41,42

Natural gas-fired power plants contributed 12% of Iowa's in-state generation in 2020, with total generation from natural gas the third-highest on record. The state's natural gas-fired generation was almost triple the level from five years earlier. Nuclear power accounted for nearly 5% of the state's electricity generation in 2020, providing slightly more than half the electricity than during the year before.43 That's because Iowa's only nuclear power plant, the single reactor, 601-megawatt Duane Arnold power plant, closed in August 2020 after storm winds damaged the power station's cooling towers. The nuclear power plant was already scheduled to be decommissioned in October 2020. The plant's owner now plans to build a 690-megawatt solar power farm at the site.44,45,46 The state's remaining 2% of electricity generation came from hydropower, biomass, petroleum, and solar.47

One in eight Iowa homes heat with propane, almost triple the national rate.

Since 2008, Iowa has generated more electricity each year than the state consumed. The excess power is sent to other states over the regional electric grid.48 Iowa ranks in the top 10 states in electricity sales per capita.49 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 slightly less than one-fourth.50 The state's average electricity price is below the U.S. average.51 About one in four Iowa households rely on electricity for home heating.52

Petroleum

Iowa is not a crude oil-producing state and does not have any proved oil reserves.53,54 Of more than 100 exploratory wells drilled in the state, only a handful ever produced oil. Those wells no longer produce, and their combined production was less than 500 barrels of crude oil.55,56 Iowa does not have any oil refineries and relies on pipelines to bring petroleum products from other states.57 Nearly 12,000 miles of petroleum product pipelines cross the state.58

The transportation sector accounts for 60% of Iowa's petroleum use.59 About two-fifths of the petroleum consumed in Iowa is used as motor gasoline and three-tenths is diesel fuel.60 Conventional motor gasoline without ethanol can be sold statewide in Iowa, although almost all U.S. gasoline is blended with at least 10% ethanol.61,62 About 325 fueling stations in the state dispense E85, a blend of motor gasoline with 85% ethanol.63,64 Iowa's industrial sector makes up 30% of the state's petroleum consumption, the residential sector accounts for 7%, and the commercial sector uses 3%.65 The state's petroleum consumption includes hydrocarbon gas liquids (HGL), mostly propane and ethane. Iowa ranks fourth among the states in HGL consumption. The industrial sector consumes about two-thirds of the HGLs, where farmers use propane to dry their corn after harvest in wet years.66,67,68 Iowa is also one of only five states that produces ethane and ethylene, used as feedstock to make plastics.69,70 About one in eight Iowa households heats with propane, almost triple the national rate.71

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 coal to run the railroads that first reached Iowa in the 1860s.72 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.73,74

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.75,76 In 2020, Iowa ranked 12th among the states in coal used for electricity generation.77

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. gas storage capacity by volume.78,79,80,81 Natural gas enters Iowa by pipelines primarily from Minnesota, Nebraska, and Missouri. About four-fifths of the natural gas that enters Iowa exits the state and continues on to Illinois and Minnesota on its way to markets in those states and farther east.82,83,84

Natural gas accounts for almost one-fourth of the total energy consumed in Iowa.85 In 2019, the industrial sector accounted for 58% of the natural gas delivered to users. Iowa's residential sector, where 6 out of 10 households use natural gas as their primary heating fuel, accounted for about 17% of the natural gas delivered to consumers. The commercial sector used 13%, and the electric power sector used 12% to generate electricity and heat.86,87

Endnotes

1 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Climatic Data Center, Climate of Iowa, accessed May 4, 2021.
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, 2018.
4 U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, WINDExchange, Wind Energy in Iowa, Maps & Data, accessed May 4, 2021.
5 Current Results, Weather and Science Facts, Days of Sunshine per Year in Iowa, accessed May 4, 2021.
6 U.S. Department of Energy, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Geospatial Data Science, Solar Resource Maps, Iowa, accessed May 4, 2021.
7 U.S. EIA, Annual Coal Report 2019 (October 15, 2020), Table 15, Recoverable Coal Reserves at Producing Mines, Estimated Recoverable Reserves, and Demonstrated Reserve Base by Mining Method, 2019.
8 U.S. EIA, Natural Gas Gross Withdrawals and Production, Gross Withdrawals, Annual-Million Cubic Feet, 2015-20.
9 U.S. EIA, Crude Oil Production, Annual-Thousand Barrels per Day, 2015-20.
10 U.S. EIA, Annual Coal Report 2019 (October 15, 2020), Table 1, Coal Production and Number of Mines by State and Mine Type, 2019 and 2018.
11 U.S. EIA, State Energy Data System, Table C14, Total Energy Consumption Estimates per Capita by End-Use Sector, Ranked by State, 2018.
12 U.S. EIA, State Energy Data System, Table C1, Energy Consumption Overview: Estimates by Energy Source and End-Use Sector, 2018.
13 U.S. EIA, State Energy Data Systems, Table C11, Energy Consumption Estimates by End-Use Sector, Ranked by State, 2018.
14 Iowa Area Development Group, Target Industries, accessed May 4, 2021.
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, NAICS, Iowa, All Statistics in Table, 2019.
16 U.S. EIA, State Energy Data System, Table C11, Energy Consumption Estimates by End-Use Sector, Ranked by State, 2018.
17 U.S. EIA, State Energy Data System, Table P4, Primary Energy Production Estimates in Physical Units, Ranked by State, 2018.
18 U.S. EIA, U.S. Fuel Ethanol Plant Production Capacity (September 25, 2020), Detailed nameplate capacity of fuel ethanol plants by Petroleum Administration for Defense District (PAD District) are available in XLS.
19 U.S. Ethanol Plants, Operational, Ethanol Producer Magazine, updated December 15, 2020.
20 U.S. EIA, Table P4, Primary Energy Production Estimates in Physical Units, Ranked by State 2018.
21 U.S. EIA, Monthly Biodiesel Production Report (February 26, 2021), Table 4, Biodiesel producers and production capacity by state, December 2020.
22 U. S. EIA, Electricity Data Browser, Net generation for all sectors (thousand megawatthours), Annual, 2017-20.
23 U.S. EIA, Electric Power Monthly (February 2021),Tables 1.3.B, 1.11.B, 1.14.B.
24 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 February 2021, Plant State: Iowa, Technology: Onshore Wind Turbine.
25 U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, WINDExchange, Wind Energy in Iowa, Maps & Data, accessed May 4, 2021.
26 U.S. EIA, Iowa Profile Overview, Map, Layers/Legend: Wind Power Plant, accessed May 4, 2021.
27 U.S. EIA, Electricity Data Browser, Net generation for all sectors (thousand megawatthours), Annual, 2017-20.
28 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 February 2021, Plant State: Iowa, Technology: Conventional Hydroelectric.
29 "American Hydro to modernize two units at 142-MW Keokuk hydroelectric plant," Hydro Review (October 16, 2020).
30 U.S. EIA, Electricity Data Browser, Net generation for all sectors (thousand megawatthours), Annual, 2017-20.
31 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 February 2021, Plant State: Iowa, Technology: Solar Photovoltaic.
32 National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Solar Resource Data, Tools, and Map, U.S. Annual Solar GHI, Iowa, February 22, 2018.
33 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 February 2021, Plant State: Iowa, Technology: Landfill gas, Other Waste Biomass.
34 TrackMyElectricity, AgriReNew Methane Center, About, accessed May 5, 2021.
35 U.S. Pellet Plants, operational, Biomass Magazine, updated January 14, 2021.
36 U.S. EIA, Monthly Densified Biomass Fuel Report (February 21, 2021), Highlights, Table 1, Densified biomass fuel manufacturing facilities in the United States by state, region, and capacity, January 2021, Download.
37 NC Clean Energy Technology Center, DSIRE, Iowa Alternative Energy Law, updated June 28, 2018.
38 U.S. EIA, Electric Power Monthly (March 2021), Table 6.2.A.
39 NC Clean Energy Technology Center, DSIRE, Iowa Energy Efficiency Standard, updated December 9, 2016.
40 NC Clean Energy Technology Center, DSIRE, Iowa Mandatory Utility Green Power Option, updated January 29, 2016.
41 U.S. EIA, Electricity Data Browser, Net generation for all sectors (thousand megawatthours), Annual, 2015-20.
42 U.S. EIA, Iowa Electricity Profile 2019, Table 2A, Ten largest plants by capacity, 2019.
43 U.S. EIA, Electricity Data Browser, Net generation for all sectors (thousand megawatthours), Annual, 2017-20.
44 U.S. EIA, Nuclear Reactor, State, and Net Capacity, December 2019.
45 Steppe, John, "Duane Arnold nuclear plant won't restart after Iowa derecho damage," The Gazette (August 25, 2021).
46 Steppe, John, "Huge solar farm planned for decommissioned Duane Arnold nuclear plant site," The Gazette (March 18, 2021).
47 U.S. EIA, Electricity Data Browser, Net generation for all sectors (thousand megawatthours), Annual, 2017-20.
48 U.S. EIA, Iowa Electricity Profile 2019, Table 10, Supply and disposition of electricity, 1990 through 2019.
49 U.S. EIA, State Energy Data System, Table C17, Electricity Retail Sales, Total and Residential, Total and per Capita, Ranked by State, 2018.
50 U.S. EIA, Electricity Data Browser, Retail sales of electricity (million kilowatthours), 2017-20.
51 U.S. EIA, Electric Power Monthly (February 2021), Table 5.6.B.
52 U.S. Census Bureau, House Heating Fuel, Table B25040, 2019 ACS 1-Year Estimates Detailed Tables, Iowa.
53 U.S. EIA, Crude Oil Production, Annual-Thousand Barrels, 2015-20.
54 U.S. EIA, Crude Oil Proved Reserves, Reserves Changes, and Production, Proved Reserves as of 12/31, Annual, 2014-19.
55 Anderson, Raymond R., Oil Exploration in Iowa, adapted from Iowa Geology 1992, No. 17, Centennial Edition, Iowa Department of Natural Resources.
56 McKay, Robert M., Mineral Resource Facts, Energy Resources, Oil and Gas, accessed May 14, 2021.
57 U.S. EIA, Number and Capacity of Petroleum Refineries, Total Number of Operable Refineries as of January 1, 2015-20.
58 U.S. Department of Energy, State of Iowa Energy Sector Risk Profile, p. 4, accessed May 14, 2021.
59 U.S. EIA, State Energy Data System, Table F16, Total Petroleum Consumption Estimates, 2019.
60 U.S. EIA, State Energy Data System, Table C2, Energy Consumption Estimates for Major Energy Sources in Physical Units, 2018.
61 Gardner, K. W., U.S. Gasoline Requirements, American Petroleum Institute (January 2018).
62 U.S. EIA, "Almost all U.S. gasoline is blended with 10% ethanol," Today in Energy (May 4, 2016).
63 U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Alternative Fuels Data Center, Alternative Fueling Station Locator, Ethanol (E85), Iowa, accessed May 14, 2021.
64 Hardy, Kevin, "Why Iowans will likely see more E15 and E85 gas at the pump soon," Des Moines Register (June 5, 2017).
65 U.S. EIA, State Energy Data System, Table F16, Total Petroleum Consumption Estimates, 2019.
66 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).
67 U.S. EIA, State Energy Data System, Table F11, Hydrocarbon Gas Liquids Consumption Estimates, 2019.
68 U.S. EIA, Hydrocarbon gas liquids explained, Where do hydrocarbon gas liquids comes from?, updated September 18, 2020.
69 U.S. Department of Energy, Ethane Storage and Distribution Hub in the United States (November 2018), p. 63.
70 U.S. EIA, Hydrocarbon gas liquids explained, accessed June 6, 2021.
71 U.S. Census Bureau, House Heating Fuel, Table B25040, 2019 ACS 1-Year Estimates Detailed Tables, Iowa, United States.
72 Hoehnle, Peter, "Types of Business and Industry," Iowa Pathways, accessed May 15, 2021.
73 U.S. EIA, Annual Coal Report 2019 (October 5, 2020), Table 1, Coal Production and Number of Mines by State and Mine Type, 2019 and 2018; Table 15, Recoverable Coal Reserves at Producing Mines, Estimated Recoverable Reserves, and Demonstrated Reserve Base by Mining Method, 2019.
74 U.S. EIA, Iowa Profile Overview, Map, Legends/Layers: Coal Field, accessed May 15, 2021.
75 U.S. EIA, Annual Coal Distribution Report 2019 (October 5, 2020), Domestic Distribution of U.S. coal by: Destination State, consumer, destination and method of transportation, Iowa, Table DS-14, Domestic Coal Distribution, by Destination State, 2019.
76 U.S. EIA, Annual Coal Report 2019 (October 5, 2020), Table 6, Coal Production and Number of Mines by State and Coal Rank, 2019.
77 U.S. EIA, Electric Power Monthly (February 2021), Table 4.6.B.
78 U.S. EIA, Natural Gas Reserves Summary as of Dec. 31, Dry Natural Gas, Annual, 2014-19.
79 U.S. EIA, Natural Gas Gross Withdrawal and Production, Gross Withdrawals, Annual-Million Cubic Feet, 2015-20.
80 U.S. EIA, Iowa Profile Overview, Map, Layers/Legend: Natural Gas Inter/Intrastate Pipeline, accessed May 15, 2021.
81 U.S. EIA, Underground Natural Gas Storage Capacity, Total Number of Existing Fields, 2014-19 and Total Storage Capacity, Annual, 2014-19.
82 U.S. EIA, International and Interstate Movements of Natural Gas by State, Iowa, Annual, 2014-19.
83 U.S. EIA, About U.S. Natural Gas Pipelines, Natural Gas Pipelines in the Midwest Region, accessed May 15, 2021.
84 U.S. EIA, About U.S. Natural Gas Pipelines, Natural Gas Pipelines in the Central Region, accessed May 15, 2021.
85 U.S. EIA, State Energy Data System, Table C1, Energy Consumption Overview: Estimates by Energy Source and End-Use Sector, 2018.
86 U.S. Census Bureau, House Heating Fuel, Table B25040, 2019 ACS 1-Year Estimates Detailed Tables, Iowa.
87 U.S. EIA, Natural Gas Consumption by End Use, Iowa, Annual, 2015-20.