According to the U.S. government, 42 percent of the electricity used in the U.S. in 2011 was generated by burning coal, 25 percent by natural gas and 13 percent by renewable energy, such as wind and solar power.
A new study from the University of Missouri shows that the state of Missouri generates 82 percent of its electricity from burning coal, with 10 percent generated by the Callaway Nuclear power plant.
Brian Dabson, a research professor and director of the Institute of Public Policy (IPP) at the MU Truman School of Public Affairs, says these numbers indicate that Missouri has quite a bit of room for increasing renewable energy consumption in the state.
“Currently, only 2.6 percent of Missouri’s energy consumption comes from renewable energy sources, a number that lags behind the rest of the country,” Dabson said. “While some municipalities are investing in wind energy, opportunities exist to increase the renewable energy infrastructure throughout the state not just with wind energy but with biomass, hydropower and solar energy as well.”
In a report published on the IPP website and submitted to Missouri policy makers, Dabson compiled data analyzing the different energy sources utilized in the state of Missouri.
He found that renewable energy consumption was low, despite a ballot measure passed by Missouri voters in 2008 to increase the state’s renewable energy usage to 15 percent of total energy consumption by 2021. Dabson recommends that state policymakers look for ways to encourage continued growth of renewable energy sources.
“State policymakers should consider modifying the existing renewable energy mandate to regulate more energy producers, not just investor-owned companies,” Dabson said. “An expansion of incentives for in-state renewable energy development may also help promote energy diversification. Renewable energy facility development and construction of transmission lines from those facilities to the main grid often come with substantial costs. If policymakers incentivize this development, it may remove a significant barrier for private companies looking to invest in renewable energy sources.”
Dabson also notes that almost all of Missouri’s energy is imported from other states. He says that increased investment in in-state renewable energy could keep millions of dollars from leaving the state in the future. In the report, Dabson also predicts coal and natural gas will remain primary sources of energy in Missouri for the immediate future, with consumption of natural gas steadily increasing as coal regulations become more stringent and natural gas costs remain relatively low.
To view a complete copy of the IPP report, visit: http://ipp.missouri.edu/files/ipp/attachments/08-2013_missouris_energy_outlook_.pdf