What’s one significant contributor to climate change? They’re called fossil fuels. These are power sources like crude oil and natural gas that we use to sustain ourselves. Fortunately, we can turn to renewable energy alternatives that work similarly — and are better for the planet.

Take a look to see what’s most cost-effective for each region in the United States.

Renewable Energy: A Summary

A renewable energy source is anything naturally-occurring that provides power — examples include wind, sunlight and water. These are “clean” elements that constantly replenish themselves without deteriorating the environment. That’s the main difference between them and fossil fuels.

There are still issues that come with renewable energy. These alternatives might not lead to pollution or deforestation, but it’s possible to damage the planet when pursuing them. A hydroelectric dam could negatively impact surrounding wildlife, for instance.

Those potential issues are infinitely more preventable than the devastation caused by fossil fuels. These prehistoric, nonrenewable energy sources are going to eventually dry up anyway. As a result, it’s never been more evident that we need to make the switch.

Wind turbines. Photo courtesy of Unsplash.com

Types of Renewable Energy

What kinds of renewable energy exist? The prospective sources are:

  • Biomass
  • Hydropower
  • Solar
  • Wind
  • Geothermal
  • Biofuels

The key downside to each source is that they’re “flow-limited.” This phrase refers to how much is available at any given time. In other words, we can use them forever — but the wind isn’t always blowing, and the sun isn’t always shining.

It should make sense that certain parts of the country will do better with specific renewable energy sources. For instance, the U.S. experiences many different climates throughout. By and large, it’s becoming cheaper every year to pursue renewable energy sources as a whole.

Here’s a look at which option is most cost-effective and prominent for every region in the country.

1. The Northwest

The Northwest includes states like Washington and Oregon that experience a lot of rain. As a result, it’s no surprise that hydroelectric power is the most prominent and cost-effective renewable energy source in this region. There are plenty of large dam projects here, too.

2. The West and Southwest

We can harness the heat stored in the sub-surface of the Earth to create energy. This option is called geothermal energy. The states with the largest sources of this type are those in the West and Southwest. In fact, it’s true that most areas around the country can effectively use geothermal energy to lower energy costs.

3. The Midwest

The midwest has the potential to use most types of renewable energy. However, solar and wind energy are especially cost-effective in these states. A single megawatt-hour of wind energy is equivalent to $113 in the Midwest, as opposed to $28 in the West. That’s a big difference!

4. The Southeast

States like Georgia and Florida can benefit from various renewable energy sources. Their proximity to bodies of water means potential in hydropower. The region also has access to a large amount of the country’s biomass resources — or plant and animal materials. Choices such as solar and wind power are advantageous, too.

5. The Mid-Atlantic and Northeast

This portion of the country has turned to solar and wind energy in recent years. For example, Massachusetts credits 14% of its power generation to solar power. These are the two cheapest forms of renewable energy for both residential and commercial purposes.

Every Part of the Country Can Benefit From Renewable Energy

There’s no denying that renewable energy is the best way forward if we want to make a difference in our planet’s future. After all, It’s abundant, long-lasting — and cheap. Therefore, it’s essential to seriously consider moving forward with replacing fossil fuels altogether.


This post was written by Jane Marsh

Jane is the Editor-in-Chief of Environment.co and an environmental writer covering green technology, sustainability and environmental news.