Iowa poised to meet carbon reduction goals

Iowa wind farm
With a capacity of 5,688 MW and more on the way, Iowa currently leads the nation in percentage of electricity generated by wind. — photo by Samir Luther via Flickr Creative Commons

Due to future investments and an increase in wind energy production over the last decade, Iowa is poised to reach its EPA-proposed carbon dioxide reduction goal of 16 percent (compared to 2012 levels) by 2030.

A report released Monday by the non-profit Iowa Wind Energy Association (IWEA) indicates that Iowa, which generated 28.5 percent of its electricity from wind in 2014, will require an additional 2,300 megawatts (MW) of wind energy capacity by 2030 in order to meet the reduction goals proposed under the EPA’s Clean Power Plan (CPP).

Iowa currently has 5,688 MW of wind power capacity, with an additional 1,212 MW expected to be in service by the end of this year. In order to achieve its CPP goal, Iowa would only need to increase its capacity by about 74 MW per year between 2016 and 2030, the IWEA points out.

On average, Iowa has installed about 635 MW of new wind capacity each year since 2008.

The CPP is a flexible plan that establishes state-specific reduction goals, with the intention of reducing carbon emissions nationwide by 30 percent below 2005 levels. Iowa’s proposed goal, for instance, calls for a 16 percent carbon reduction from levels measured in 2012.

Iowa currently leads the nation in percentage of electricity generated by wind at 28.5 percent. By the end of this year, the IWEA expects that figure to surpass 30 percent.

As a result of these investments, carbon emissions in Iowa have dropped significantly in recent years. Iowa’s rate of carbon dioxide emissions in 2005 were measured at 1,800 pounds/MWh, but by the end of 2012, that rate had dropped to about 1,551 pounds/MWh. During that same time period, wind energy capacity in Iowa grew from 800 MW to more than 5,133 MW.

The report also suggests that Iowa could help nearby states reach their respective CPP goals. In addition to building and selling excess power, Iowa is capable of providing neighboring states with various components, services and expertise.

If Iowa built an additional 7,500 MW of wind capacity by 2030 (about 500 MW per year), for example, this increase would cover the entire CCP reduction target for Wisconsin (which generates only 2 percent of its energy from wind). Currently, Iowa’s wind industry employs about 6,000 Iowans, according to the IWEA.

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