In recent years, the U.S. has been paying close attention to carbon emissions. What once seemed like an insurmountable task has become a worthwhile and achievable goal for many cities.
Cities account for about 75% of CO2 emissions all over the world. As renewable energy sources continue to become less costly, leaders in cities across the nation are helping their communities make the leap to 100% clean energy sources.
One of the most popular options for cities is wind energy. Studies show that wind energy will become one of the cheapest sources of electricity by the year 2030, so it’s likely that we will see more cities use wind energy as their main source of power.
While it might not be possible to know what city uses the most wind energy yet, the number of cities relying on wind energy is increasing at a feverish pace. Here are four that have made wind energy a cornerstone of their communities.
Rock Port, Missouri: The original “clean city”.
Would you believe it if I said one of the cities powered by wind has been already doing it for a decade?
It’s no exaggeration: in 2008, Rock Port, Missouri - a small farming community - set the standard, leading the way to 100% wind energy. All 1,300 residents of Rock Port are connected to a power grid featuring four large wind turbines.
Greensburg, Kansas: Turning tragedy into energy.
In 2007, a tornado tore through Greensburg, Kansas, causing so much destruction that half its population abandoned the town.
The citizens who stayed took on the task of rebuilding the community. Because they were starting from scratch, they made a bold decision: to start over with sustainability at the foundation of every decision they made. They used wind power to make that happen.
Of course, this was a difficult decision financially: costs to rebuild the town soared over 20% higher than if they had stuck with conventional energy sources. In exchange, they’re saving $200,000 a year on energy costs for its largest buildings.
Kodiak Island, Alaska: Ahead of schedule.
Since the early part of the 21st century, Kodiak Island has been mostly fueled by hydropower. This was a significant step - one that most cities weren’t even considering back then.
Still, they were burning 2.8 million gallons of diesel every year just to make up the difference between what residents needed and what they were generating. While not devastating, it still cost them $7 million a year to cover that shortage. And they wanted to do even better.
They set an ambitious goal: to be at least 95% powered by renewable energy sources by the year 2020. Thanks to wind power, they were able to reach 99% renewable power in 2014.
In 2009, the city bought three giant wind turbines and had to figure out how to install them. Once they worked out the kinks, they made the transition six years ahead of their planned goal.
Aspen, Colorado: Decades of clean energy.
Sure, when you think of Aspen, you probably imagine the ski slopes full of rich vacationers. But were you aware that Aspen has been one of the leaders in clean energy since the 1980s?
That’s right: Aspen built two hydroelectric plants way back in the 1980s. By 2014, those two plants had allowed them to reach 80% renewable energy. But they were ready to finish the job.
Rather than build a third hydroelectric plant, which would have been an expensive undertaking), Aspen turned to wind power: buying renewable energy from other states, reaching 100% renewable energy in 2015.
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Wind energy usage has doubled worldwide.
Wind energy is a tremendous resource for cities who want to reduce their carbon emissions; more cities are catching on. Since 2015, the number of cities who report that they are mostly powered by clean energy has more than doubled worldwide: from 42 cities in 2015 to 101 cities today.
The world’s reliance on fossil fuels is starting to waver; cities all over the country - and the world - showing us that 100% reliance on clean energy like wind power is a feasible goal.