For the next few weeks people and leaders around the world will be talking about climate change, emissions levels, and renewable energy sources (i.e., hydroelectric power, wind, solar, geothermal, wood biomass, ethanol, biodiesel and waste biomass.) Two of the top energy users – the United States (U.S.) and China have made several positive steps towards increasing the use of renewable energy sources. According to the Global Wind Energy Council, close to 1 out of every 3 wind turbines in the world are in China. Fossil fuel still account for over half of China’s electricity, but renewable sources are increasing with hydro at 21 percent and wind 8 percent. In the U.S. close to 10 percent of the total energy supply is from renewables, with hydro, biomass wood, biomass waste, and wind accounting for the majority of renewable energy sources. So how is your state doing with regards to renewable energy and reducing carbon dioxide emissions?
I am pleased to say that Georgia ranks in the top 10 for total renewable energy production. In fact five of the top ten are states in the southeast. Very impressive! In Georgia trees are plentiful, so lumber and pulpwood are important resources that are being used in the production of electricity from biomass. In 2014, Georgia ranked third in the nation for biomass.
The table below shows the states that rank highest for total energy from renewable sources. In Georgia about 50 percent of the total energy came from renewable sources between 1960 and 2013.
If you look at the top 10 then it is a good idea to look at the bottom 10. Most of the states below are rich in coal and oil, so that may be one reason why they have moved slower to develop renewable alternatives.
Carbon dioxide is the primary greenhouse gas. According to the EPA, in 2013 it accounted for around 82 percent of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions from human activities. A recently released study from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), found that almost every state has reduced carbon dioxide emissions between 2005 and 2013. That’s great news!
On the other side, some states have not done as good of a job at reducing carbon dioxide emissions. Not surprising, many of these states tend to have large populations, which means more people and more daily activities that contribute to increased carbon dioxide emissions.
Overall the U.S. has made great strides. Could more have been done? Of course, there is always room for improvement and growth. I believe we are on track to accomplish great things. As we move forward each one of us can make choices to reduce our energy use by turning the thermostat down in the winter, adding solar lighting outdoors, using public transportation, and exploring alternative energy sources we can use at home. Each one of us can make a difference! You will find additional information on saving energy at www.UGAgreenway.org.
Note: Thank you to Moderize for their research and graphics.