One of our favorite energy journalists (and native Tennesseean) David Roberts posted two great maps from consulting firm Black & Veatch in his column yesterday on Grist. The first looks at non-hydro renewable energy projects installed across the United States as of 1970:
Roberts observes three things about this map: "One, there weren't very many! Two, they weren't very big. And three, they were all biomass. In other words, in 1970, renewable energy in the U.S. was effectively nonexistent.
Some of the biomass projects even in the early days take place in central and southern Virginia, and on the West Virginia/Virginia border. Other parts of the Southeast also show up with biomass projects. But the rest of the country catapults past these pioneering renewable energy projects from the 1970s on.
The second map shows a more recent picture, illustrating non-hydro renewable energy projects that are built or planned today:
It is definitely a more robust picture, with lots of different kinds of technologies being installed across the country.
But if you look closely, there's a pretty big corridor in Central Appalachia that doesn't have much to show in the way of renewable energy projects. It is a big difference from the sea of purple showing wind farms in Texas, or the boxes of yellow showing solar installations in the Southwest. Even the Northeast shows a mix of technologies popping up with such frequency that the map shows them on top of each other.
We need to put Appalachia on this map. There are a lot of great groups working in our area to advance renewable energy. The Kentucky Sustainable Energy Alliance is working across Kentucky on the policy front, trying to encourage the passage of state policies that would make it more profitable and more viable to install renewable energy projects in Kentucky. Coal River Mountain Watch is working on a number of projects in West Virginia that would diversify energy choices and support renewable projects.
Who else is working to put Appalachia on the map? Do you have ideas about how to get us there?