Mapping U.S. Clean Energy Progress
This past year has proven that the rise of renewable energy positively impacts the American economy, energy infrastructure, and the environment. As of 2017, there were approximately 2.2 million people employed in the solar, wind, and energy efficiency sectors nationwide. This past year also saw renewable deployment grow at a near-record pace. According to a new Bloomberg New Energy Finance report, renewables now make up nearly one-fifth of our total electricity mix. And this isn’t just because of the environment; electricity from solar and wind is cheaper than coal and natural gas in many markets. The old talking point that sustainability will automatically reduce returns can be said no more. This shift has opened up the market to a mix of power sources, diversifying our country’s energy portfolio while displacing king coal from its throne.
However, an industry can’t claim success if it can’t demonstrate its economic viability. Data around renewables is often static, poorly communicated, and siloed by region and energy source. Other times it is generalized at a national level and doesn’t speak to politicians who need to know what’s best for the economies of their own states, districts, and communities. Without a comprehensive information resource, it’s difficult to quantify the full economic benefits of the clean energy sector, especially at a hyperlocal level.
ENTER THE U.S. CLEAN ENERGY PROGRESS MAP
The newly released U.S. Clean Energy Progress Map empowers citizens and their representatives with economic data that illustrates the viability of clean energy to inform decisions and leverage facts when promoting progress in the industry. Created by Kevala Analytics, the map is a public, web-based tool that shows wind, solar, and energy efficiency jobs and investments across the country. As a proud partner of the map, INK will be utilizing its data when communicating about renewable energy.
Why do we love it? Not only is there currently no similar resource available, it’s incredibly easy to use. Whether we’re grabbing current clean energy investment numbers in Boston, analyzing solar jobs in Minnesota in face of policy changes, or announcing a new wind project in Kansas, data is just two clicks away. The Clean Energy Progress Map also provides thought-provoking visuals for when we want to drive home our point about clean energy investment in a pitch. I also have to admit – it’s just fun to dive in to.
So what can we see? As a person with deep family roots in Oklahoma, I frequently hum “where the wind comes sweeping down the plain.” While the catchiest state song ever, it’s also true. The Sooner State’s strong and reliable breezes have attracted vast wind energy investment in recent years. According to the map, there are 8,500 wind energy jobs in Oklahoma and combined with solar, clean energy has invested over $7 billion dollars in the state. But what’s exciting is we can get even more localized than that. Texas County, which is located on the Oklahoma Panhandle, has attracted a total investment of $244.8 million in wind energy. This investment strengthens their tax base, supports their schools, and boosts local landowners.
A view of solar and wind investments in Oklahoma broken down by congressional districts.
By consolidating clean energy information, and making it interactive and accessible, the map equips citizens and advocates with the facts that are most relevant to their local communities and policymakers. Armed with economic data, map users can make informed decisions about energy policies and promote the growth of clean energy on a local and national level.
Ready to see the #CleanEnergyProgress in your community? Visit the map here.