As Nebraskans, we’ll never admit that Iowa is better at anything. When it comes to progress in renewable energy, however, our neighbors are taking big strides. While the grass might not be greener on the Iowa side, the environment might be. Learn more about how Iowa’s commitment to a cleaner, greener future.
For years, Iowa has taken renewable energy initiatives seriously, focusing first on wind power. What began as a small project has now become a driving force in Iowa energy resources. In 2008 wind turbines powered roughly 4 percent of total energy in Iowa. With the additional construction of more wind turbines across the state, over 30 percent of Iowa’s total electricity is was generated by wind in 2015. In addition to reducing Iowa’s dependence on coal and other fossil fuels, their push for clean energy has created jobs and economic growth for the state.
In addition to success in harnessing energy from the wind, Iowa leads the nation in biofuel production. Biofuels are fuels created from crops and plants instead of other non-renewable resources, like coal. Common biofuels today include bioethanol, known as ethanol, and biodiesel. These fuels are blended with gasoline to power cars and reduce your greenhouse gas emissions. Corn, wheat and soybeans are some of the most widely used crops in ethanol production. They also happen to be crops that Iowa farmers grow in plenty, helping them achieve their status as national leaders in biofuels.
The tremendous growth in wind power has helped motivate Iowans to pursue other clean energy solutions, including solar. With success in both wind power and biofuels, Iowa environmental leaders are now turning their attention to ways to increase solar energy use across the state. Even with all this progress in clean energy, Iowa remains a net importer of energy. This means Iowans consume more energy than they produce. Experts are hoping advances in solar system installations can change that.
Solar panels have already been installed throughout Iowa. Everyone from school district leaders to rural farmers are seeing the benefits of solar power, including cost savings. Tax incentives and financing options have helped fund these projects, making this renewable resource more accessible for all Iowans. In addition to these financial incentives, Iowa business owners are testing solar storage solutions to make the most out of their solar panel systems.
While Iowa has relatively low electricity rates, the state has high demand fees with many of their utilities. This charge has driven more homes and businesses to pursue alternative energy sources. The problem with solar panel systems alone is that they don’t store energy. That means you’re only able to get solar electricity when the sun is shining. To go completely off the grid, you must have a some way to store the excess energy produced.
Fortunately, new technology in storage is proving successful for many businesses. Intelligent solar-plus-storage systems are designed to predict when you’re going to need more power. The storage system will anticipate an increase in power usage and turn on the solar battery. Instead of drawing more electricity from the grid, you’ll draw power stored in the solar battery. This way, your electricity use will even out and you’ll avoid demand charges.
As Iowa continues to pursue a cleaner, more eco-friendly world, the rest of the nation is watching. There are many ways we can learn from their commitment to renewable energy resources and make changes in our own lives today.