Indiana: the Great Green Hope?

Indiana is making sizable strides in adopting renewable energy. (Photo: Patrick Finnegan [CC BY 2.0]/Flickr)

Renewable energy will play an important part in the nation’s green recovery. While some states have already begun to capitalize on clean energy, other states are a veritable breeding ground for renewable energy projects. A new report by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), examines how Indiana can emerge as a major player in the clean energy economy of the future.

Martin R. Cohen authored the NRDC report: A Clean Energy Economy for Indiana: Analysis of the Rural Economic Development Potential of Renewable Resources (PDF).

Indiana has been significantly impacted by the current economic recession. According to the NRDC, the state has lost nearly 200,000 jobs since the recession began. In August 2009, the unemployment rate in Indiana was 9.7%. While this is down from the 10.4% the state faced in July 2009, it is significantly higher than 6.2% seen during August 2008.

A June 2009 report by the Pew Charitable Trusts shows that of the nearly 3.4 million jobs in the state, .52% were in clean energy, which is higher than the national average of .49%.

Before the recession began in December 2007, clean energy job growth in the state was on the rise. Between 1998 and 2007, jobs in the clean energy industry increased by 17.9% while overall job growth in the state decreased by 1%.

The NRDC report examines how wind, biomass, and other renewable energy technologies can help the state stay ahead of the clean energy curve and become more of a Mecca for renewable energy companies.

“Indiana’s advanced network of rail lines, interstate highways, and waterways has made it “The Crossroads of America.” But the global economic downturn has hit Indiana hard, causing the loss of almost 200,000 jobs since the beginning of 2008.1 Facing an unprecedented set of economic challenges, Indiana stands at a new crossroads and is poised for healthy growth if it can take advantage of the enormous potential for development of its exceptional renewable resources.” Source: NRDC (PDF)

Wind energy could meet 12.5% of the state’s electricity requirements, which could lead to 1,260 permanent jobs, a $200 million annual economic impact, and a reduction of 13.1 million metric tons of carbon.

Biopowered energy could provide 9.5% of the state’s electricity needs, create 3,600 permanent jobs, and reduce 10 million metric tons of carbon. Energy efficiency projects in the state could save approximately 13.7 million MWh of electricity, reduce carbon emissions by 13.6 million metric tons, create 5,350 new green jobs, and create a $3.6 billion in net energy savings. The report also examines the environmental and economic impact of biofuel and biogas.