Iowa climate scientists: Iowa is ‘under-invested’ in solar energy

According to a new report, Iowa has a big role to play when it comes to combating the changing climate.
Published: Oct. 15, 2023 at 10:24 PM CDT
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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG) - According to a new report, Iowa has a big role to play when it comes to combating the changing climate.

Earlier this month, scientists in the state released the 13th annual Iowa Climate Statement. As for the focus of the report this year, the subtitle said it all: “It’s Time to Tap Iowa’s Vast Solar Energy Resources.”

“We’ve talked about importance of trees, we’ve talked about the wind energy sector in Iowa. And so this year, it was clear that it was time to address solar [in the statement],” said Peter Thorne, professor of Occupational and Environmental Health at the University of Iowa.

According to this year’s installment of the annual statement, right now Iowa generates a higher proportion of its electricity from wind than any other state—58% in 2021. However solar is well under 1%.

“We have tremendous solar energy potential,” said Thorne.

The statement isn’t just about whatever the topic of the year happens to be, though. It’s also about keeping climate change and its impact on Iowa on people’s minds.

“There’s a lot of good things happening, a lot of people are coming up with great innovations,” said Thorne.

Thorne recognized many people feel what he called “climate anxiety.”

“I worry that that some of our younger people are thinking that, for instance, the prospects for the planet are so grim that they shouldn’t consider having a family,” he said. “I think many older people don’t understand the impact that climate change is having on the mental health of young people.”

He hoped the statement from Iowa’s scientific community could be a message that there are still actions that can make a difference.

“I think that being optimistic in my teaching with young people really helps them look for climate solutions and helps them be optimistic,” said Thorne. “It takes everybody coming up with great ideas and making individual choices as well as helping big things happen for the greater good.”