How the Midwest Can Advance the Future of Renewable Energy

Missouri Partnership CEO, Subash Alias, takes a look at the critical role Midwestern states are playing in renewable energy.

Subash Alias, CEO of Missouri Partnership

California might be leading the charge for renewable energy, but that alone isn’t enough. Despite a 46-fold increase in solar generation from 2008 to 2018, fossil fuels still make up 80% of the energy consumed in the U.S. About 77% of Americans think the nation should invest more in alternative energy sources, which is why energy leaders would be wise to look to the Midwest to meet the growing renewable energy demand.

To drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and support the nation’s energy needs, renewable installations will need to be placed strategically. According to researchers from Harvard and Carnegie Mellon, renewable energy in the Midwest offers the greatest potential benefits. For instance, each megawatt-hour produced by Midwest wind turbines generates an estimated $113 in health and economic benefits — more than four times what California generates ($28).

Renewable Energy in the Midwest

It’s no surprise that Midwest renewable energy is on the rise, with states in the region emerging as leaders in the clean energy space. Missouri, for example, is home to the leading producers of battery and energy storage devices for the defense, space, automotive, and consumer industries. It’s also a hotbed for innovations in the development and production of energy: Missouri’s solar production tripled in 2013, and it continues to improve with every installation.

But perhaps the cornerstone of the Midwest green energy movement is wind power. The wind belt includes states like Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska, making the Midwest a great place to install wind turbines. Iowa and Oklahoma are the second- and third-biggest producers of wind energy behind Texas, which generates the most due to its sheer size.

Kansas particularly stands out because it generates enough wind power with its Midwest wind turbines to meet more than 50% of its energy needs, even though its government doesn’t set renewable energy requirements. These numbers will continue to grow as more energy leaders select the Midwest for their renewable energy installations.

The Business Benefits of Midwest Renewable Energy

In 2020, member homes of the Associated Electric Cooperative in Iowa, Missouri, and Oklahoma received 25% of their power from renewable resources — 16% from wind and 9% from hydropower. Ameren Missouri recently acquired two new wind farms, so these figures will continue to grow as green energy benefits the region.

Energy leaders who want to move away from high-cost coastal regions can explore Midwest wind and solar opportunities. A business location analysis will quickly reveal how impactful renewable installations can be for companies that want to expand their operations. Not only will new installations reduce emissions and improve the country’s health, but they’ll also make the region more attractive to other innovative organizations that want to cut back their carbon footprints.

The Midwest energy industry has long been powered by coal and other fossil fuels, but that’s rapidly changing. Thanks to Midwest wind and solar, the likes of Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma are some of the best states for renewable energy installations. As the U.S. continues to prioritize clean energy and the companies that support a green future, these areas will attract additional attention and investment from businesses.

*Originally published in Energy Central