Largely thanks to renewable portfolio standards, the Midwest is a renewable energy hub and accounts for over a third of U.S. wind power capacity, according to a report from the American Council On Renewable Energy (ACORE).
The Midwestern Region Report, the second in ACORE's four-part 6th annual Renewable Energy in the 50 States report, focuses on the clean energy sector in the 12 Midwest states: Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin.
"The past couple of years have seen an impressive increase in renewable energy sector activity throughout the American Midwest. Eight of the 12 states we examine in this new report have strong binding standards for renewable and/or clean energy, plus an additional three have non-binding goals," explains Lesley Hunter, ACORE's research and program manager and lead author of the report
"With strong renewable portfolio standards in place, the political will to protect and expand them, and the market stability they bring, these states are certain to protect their large domestic market share."
According to the Midwestern Region Report, technologies suited for expansion in the region include biomass, solar, hydropower, waste energy, biofuels and wind, among other clean technologies.
In the report, ACORE says five Midwest states generate over 10% of their electricity from wind energy, out of only nine states nationally. Last year resulted in a 29% increase in installed generation capacity in the Midwest, adding over 21 GW of new wind power to the grid, the report notes. However, ACORE says uncertainty caused by congressional debate over the production tax credit, coupled with transmission constraints, has resulted in far fewer wind power facilities to be built to date in 2013.
"The 12 states that comprise the American Midwest are home to nationally recognized bioenergy and wind energy resources," says Hunter. "Furthermore, smaller-scale renewable energy sources are also experiencing growth in the region. Midwestern solar power capacity, for example, experienced a 150 percent jump in 2012.
"State renewable portfolio standards have been the single largest driver of this growth and expansion. Only one state of our 12 – Nebraska – does not have any sort of binding/nonbinding standard," Hunter continues. "It is therefore no surprise to see Nebraska come in last for renewable power in the Midwestern States Installed Capacity Rankings."
This September, ACORE released its Western Region Report, and both the Northeast and the Southeast Region Reports will come out within the next few months.