The U.S. Energy Information Agency just released its report ranking the fifty states in terms of renewable energy. The top five are Washington (hydroelectric), California (solar, wind, and geothermal), Oregon (hydroelectric), New York (hydroelectric), and Texas (wind). The bottom five are Delaware, Rhode Island, Nebraska, Indiana, and Utah. According to the report, nearly 50% of all energy generated in this country comes from the burning of coal. Although this has been known for some time, it's apparent that it's going to take more than legislation to make our way to a cleaner way of generating electricity.
It's not that we don't have the technology, because we do. The EIA indicates six different types of renewable energy sources including biomass, wind, solar, geothermal, and hydroelectric. The total output of all these methods combined amounts to 9.6% of all electricity generated. That percentage is growing every year, but much too slowly in terms of several factors. First, the longer it takes to move towards cleaner fuels, the longer our planet will be polluted and the longer it will take to clean up. And if you have any worries about the health care plan that passed through congress, then multiply them by an unknown factor when more incidents of airborne and other illnesses increase decade by decade. Second, the longer this process takes, the more dependent we still will be on foreign countries to help power our needs. Third, we are a country of invention and innovation. An industry that meets less than 10% of our country's energy needs is an industry poised to grow.
In the long run, is there a downside to investing in renewable energy sources? According to these numbers, if thought out and well researched, NO!
Jonathan A. Schein is president/CEO of ScheinMedia, publisher of MetroGreenBusiness.com.