Wind turbines have always been somewhat of a common sight when driving through the Midwest. Now you’re only going to see more, as the Upper Midwest states have continued to put their chips on renewable energy over the past few years.
According to a recent study by the Minnesota-based nonprofit Fresh Energy, renewable energy sources have accounted for a staggering 75 percent of newly built energy supplies in the Upper Midwest states, which are defined here as Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and the Dakotas.
In other words, more than six gigawatts of renewable energy sources have been installed throughout these states over the past five years.
As seen in the below graphic courtesy of Fresh Energy, coal production has steadily dropped since 2012, while wind and solar energy have seen a rise. Though its not visible yet on the graph, solar energy is expected to rise in the coming years as prices for the renewable are thought to keep dropping.
In 2017, the Upper Midwest received 31 percent of its total energy from wind and hydro sources, according to Green Tech Media. Meanwhile, carbon dioxide emissions are falling because of a decreased reliance on coal and the retirement of aging coal plants across the region.
“The renewables revolution has produced major emissions reductions,” Fresh Energy’s report states. “Across the region, carbon dioxide emissions rates fell by 33 percent between 2005 and 2016 and by over 14 percent from just 2013 to 2016. These declines have outpaced the national average.”
The clear worry with more dependence on wind energy going forward, however, is the inconsistent nature of wind supply that is not as constant as solar, for instance.
Still, experts expect increased demand for renewable energies like wind, which has the advantage of being easily transportable throughout the region and should give it the upper-hand going forward in the local and international economies.