Workers assemble a wind turbine blade at a factory in Grand Forks, North Dakota, in 2006. (Photo by tuey via Creative Commons)
The Midwest has the potential for a thriving clean energy industry, but only if coherent policies are enacted at the state and federal level, clean-energy experts say.
Experts on the Midwestern clean-energy sector say the region stands to benefit because of its research universities, strong supply chains and a high level of manufacturing know-how.
But whether it does or not depends largely on policy-makers.
According to a report issued last week by Pew Charitable Trusts, hurdles to an expanded U.S. clean-energy sector include a lack of a national clean-energy standard and longstanding tax breaks for oil, gas and coal producers. Unless these and other issues are addressed, they could lead to billions of dollars of economic activity moving overseas, the analysis concluded.
“The Midwest looks to me like a great place for clean energy,” said Phyllis Cuttino, director of Pew’s Clean Energy Program. But, she added, clean-energy leaders in the Midwest and nationwide “all said the same thing: The thing that makes it really hard for us is that we can’t plan.”
These conclusions come from two lines of investigation Pew undertook to prepare the report. They commissioned a detailed analysis of clean-energy trends by Pike Research, industry analysts who specialize in global clean-technology markets. Pew also conducted five regional roundtables of clean-energy business leaders, including researchers, manufacturers, companies deploying solar and biomass, and investors, as well as one national roundtable, all to get the industry’s take on how current policy was affecting them, and which policy changes would help.