Iowa leads the way for renewable energy growth in America

Iowa continues to dominate the US when it comes to renewable energy growth. A new report from the nonprofit WorkingNation and Emsi Burning Glass indicates that clean energy jobs will increase nearly 20% over the next five years, a significant increase over the national average of 5%. Today, nearly 13,000 clean energy workers live in Iowa, which boasts the highest sector-related employment rate in the United States.

“Iowa’s clean energy industry continues to expand across the state,” said Beth Townsend, director of Iowa Workforce Development. “We rank first in the country in terms of the amount of our electricity that is produced with clean energy. Almost 58% of our electricity comes from clean energy, mainly from wind turbines.”

Photo courtesy of Karsten Würth

Renewable energy in the Hawkeye State is dominated by wind, with solar power a close second. The northwestern section of the state has strong winds, a perfect place to harvest renewable energy.

In fact, Iowa’s energy sector includes more than 12,000 megawatts of wind and solar power, already powering 3.9 million homes. In 2020, three-fifths of the state’s electricity came from renewable sources, putting it second behind Texas in wind power production.

Numerous new projects are on the horizon, including the Duane Arnold Solar project in Linn County, which will eventually provide 200 megawatts of clean energy and 75 megawatts of battery energy storage. Additionally, Alliant Energy in Des Moines is investing $750 million in solar and battery storage in eastern Iowa, which will be the largest solar project in the state.

Photo courtesy of Alliant Energy

According to Green Jobs Now, there is a growing demand for skilled workers in both areas, and those workers are eligible for higher wages and bonuses. A single new wind power project can create more than 200 jobs.

The state’s focus on these clean energy jobs, particularly in the Des Moines and Ames metro areas, has rippled through the economy, leading large corporations like Microsoft, Apple and Amazon to invest in the state and create even more jobs. Amazon has added seven new warehouses, while Meta recently opened a data center in Altoona. WorkingNation-Emsi’s Burning Glass report indicates that the state has more than half a million workers with transferable skills to the sector.

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Photo courtesy of Duane Arnold Solar

“If there’s going to be a big transition to a green economy, it’s better at the table than on the menu,” said Charlie Wishman, president of the Iowa Federation of Labor.

Iowa is setting the bar high by creating many clean energy jobs, a wise choice to help fuel the state’s economic growth. This growth is now supported by the federal government’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure investment plan designed to boost sustainable jobs across the country. The federal government, like Iowa, focuses on training and job skills development for workers whose skill set can be easily transferred to the renewable energy sector.

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