Heat wave sweeps across the Midwest


It’s hot out there, folks.  And temperatures are hitting remarkable levels all over Iowa, Minnesota and Illinois. 

Check out this coverage from Weather Underground and a map of Thursday’s heat forecast below.

Map courtesy of Weather Underground

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Midwest green jobs continue to grow


Growth in Aggregate Clean Economy by state. Map courtesy of Midwest Energy News.

The Midwest currently holds 23 percent of the “clean jobs” in the country as the nation created about a half million of the positions from 2003 to 2010.

Read the Midwest Energy News report here:

When President Obama promised green jobs, he probably had bigger ideas in mind; ideas that relied on regulations, new standards, and policy initiatives that would lead to innovation. Still, despite the serious political roadblocks to feeding a green economy, a new report by the Brookings Institution, in collaboration with development company Battelle, reveals that green jobs grew at an annual rate of 3.4 percent (or by half a million jobs) between 2003 and 2010. Continue reading

Study supports Great Lakes’ offshore wind


Photo by gocarts, Flickr

Grant Valley State University recently conducted a study to determine the noise produced by wind turbines, and the visibility of these structures, if they were placed offshore on the Great Lakes. The University conducted this study in large part due to the public’s fear that  turbines would pose an audible and visual disturbance. However, the study concluded that the turbines would only be visible about half the time, and their sound probably wouldn’t reach shore. As the Midwest Energy News reports, this makes the proposed wind farms far less of a disturbance than the coal factories located along the great lakes:

A new study by Grand Valley State University may remind you of an old study by Grand Valley State University. The new one is on the impacts of offshore wind. The conclusion: Not as bad as people might think. The old study: Same bottom line. But will it change minds? Probably not, and that’s a (cough) shame.

The cough is from the coal that powers much of Michigan, and the Midwest. The deal with coal is that it’s been in use a long time, and some people just don’t see the harm it does. Continue reading

Midwestern water has unexpected future value


Photo by Shes Not There, Flickr

The Great Lakes provides the Midwestern United States with a hefty water supply, beautiful scenery as well as fishing and recreational oppertunities.  However, the water itself has the potential to become far more valuable as time goes on.

Midwest Energy News reports:

Journalist (and regular contributor to Midwest Energy News) Dan Haugen directed my attention to an interesting column by Eric Reguly in the Toronto Globe and Mail on water scarcity and industrial growth.

In a nutshell, while China and other Asian countries provide cheap labor, they’re limited by increasing demand on limited water resources.

Anyone who watches China closely cites water scarcity as the biggest threat to the country’s growth. In a recent presentation to clients, Michael Komesaroff of Urandaline Investments, an Australian consulting firm that specializes in capital-intensive industries, especially Chinese ones, called water “the one issue with the potential to stop China’s growth and rewrite the China Story.” Note the word “stop,” not “slow.”

As water becomes more scarce, Reguly argues, opportunities for industrial expansion will open up in countries like Canada. It’s already making things like incredibly water-intensive oil sands extraction practical in places where it otherwise may not.

Suncor, the oil sands giant, is one of the world’s most water-intensive companies, as measured by direct water withdrawal per $1 million in revenue. Teck Resources is another hog. But water scarcity isn’t an existential risk for companies here, although many are trying to reduce their water footprints. If the geological gods had plunked the oil sands in the western United States instead of Western Canada, they probably wouldn’t have been developed.

But you know who else has a lot of water? The upper Midwest. All the more reason, as Forbes writer Chris Turner pointed out last week, why cleantech manufacturing will be vital for the region’s economic future.

Farmland prices rise in renewable energy boom


A portion of the World's largest windfarm. 259 wind turbines over 200 feet tall located in Cherokee and Buena Vista Counties in Northwestern Iowa. Together they produce 192,750 kW of energy. According to recent reports, Iowa gets generates about 15 percent of its energy from wind. Photo by Jim Hammer, Wikimedia Commons

This work by Midwest Energy News is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.

By Kevin Dobbs

Midwest farmers – and the land on which they rely – have prospered in recent years, even as the U.S. endured a financial crisis and economic recession.

And for better or worse, agriculture has built its good health on the fortunes of energy.

While rising global demand for food — particularly from densely populated and growing countries such as India — gets a chunk of the credit, this newfound prosperity is closely linked to the United States government’s backing of corn-based ethanol. Farm incomes and farmland values have surged as the ethanol industry emerged and then swelled in the past decade, creating a new form of steady demand for corn and hastening the rise in value of the soil in which it grows. Continue reading