New wind energy report from the Department of Energy blows away misconceptions about renewables

sustainable_rural, flickr

A new report from the Department of Energy should have renewable energy supporters cheering from coast to coast.

According to last year’s metrics, wind energy was the number one source of new energy in the U.S. in 2012, clocking in at a whopping 43 percent of total new energy generated. 

GIF: un-gif-dans-ta-gueule, Tumblr

This revelation marks an important step for the U.S. as it transitions from being a country dependent on fossil fuels to a country invested in wind and solar energy.

To give a little context to exactly how much energy we've been generating from wind, the Department of Energy reports that:

Last year, the amount of new wind power capacity added to the U.S. grid nearly doubled the amount deployed in 2011.

This tremendous growth helped the nation’s total wind power capacity surpass 60 gigawatts by the end of 2012—a staggering amount of energy that would be enough to power more than 15 million homes each year, or as many homes as in California and Washington state combined.

Such growth is a significant indicator that tells us the U.S. now possesses the ability to harness its natural resources for electricity with the proper policies in place.

Renewable energy from wind and solar doubled in President Obama’s first term, and he’s setting his sights on boosting renewable energy production even more in his current term.

President Obama speaks to a crowd at TPI, a maker of wind turbine blades that employs 700 people at its Newton, Iowa. Photo: USDA, flickr

Playing a part in the president’s new action plan to combat climate change, our public lands will begin to assume a leading role. This means our nation's leaders should be thinking about how to sustain this renewable energy burst into the future. While our public lands are a great source of opportunity for wind and solar power, they need to be developed safely and responsibly with proper research to ensure the projects are built in low impact areas.

Without hard line policies in place, this renewable energy burst might soon fizzle out.

In order to ensure these projects are being done “Smart from the Start,” it’s imperative for our nation to have certain investments in place.

Long term extension of key incentives like the Production Tax Credit for wind energy and the Investment Tax Credit for solar will give renewable energy players the knowledge that their long term investments will pay off. And proper tools to protect wildlands would ensure that any possible negative impacts of renewable energy development are offset by investments in conservation and local communities. 

This is why the Wilderness Society has been working hard on the Public Lands Renewable Energy Development Act, an important bipartisan bill that would direct money generated by electricity produced from wind and solar back to U.S. states, counties and conservation. This bill would pay back the land and also lead to smart renewable energy development.

The good news is the U.S. is now on the right path to making sure that clean and renewable energy is in our futures.

Photo: WalmartCorporate, flickr