Electricity is the most versatile energy. It can be generated from any energy source and transmitted across very long distances. This map is one of a series covering the nine U.S. Census Bureau divisions. It shows where the states are strongest in their potential to generate electricity from four renewable sources. Not every state has high potential in every category; if you live on the northern seacoast, you are more likely to have access to good wind power than to high solar potential.
The map shows areas with wind resources of wind power class 4 or greater, which are suitable for most utility-scale wind turbine applications. Class 4 wind blows at about 20-27 kph [12.5 to 16.8 mph].
EARTH'S HEAT (GEOTHERMAL)
Only 14 states have significant geothermal resources. The map shows areas with geothermal energy suitable for generating electricity. But if you live near one of the country's hot springs, you may be able to enjoy its energy by jumping in.
The map series shows, in green, counties in which harvested fuelwood is more than 3 million cubic feet (23,437.5 cords). The information comes from a 2001 report by the Forest Service.
Areas shown in yellow are the best for collecting solar radiation. The radiation is measured in kilowatt-hours per square meter per day available to be harvested by a photovoltaic panel or similar collector oriented due south at a particular angle. This angle, in order to allow the sun to strike the collector straight-on as much as possible, is equal to the latitude of the collector's location.
Motor vehicles are a major consumer of energy, and one that has historically used fossil fuel. The Department of Energy, in order to promote renewable energy as motor fuel, has developed the Clean Cities Program, a voluntary, local, government-industry partnership to expand the use of alternative fuel vehicles and refueling infrastructure. The map shows cities that are members of the program.
THIS ISN'T THE WHOLE STORY
Not every kind of renewable energy is depicted on this map, and not every use of that energy is considered. Farmlands can harvest methane and burn it to produce heat, then use the heat to generate electricity. It's good to keep in mind, too, that generating electricity is not always the best use of an energy source. This is because using energy directly is more efficient than converting it to a different type. For example, if you have logs and want to heat your home, you'll get better results by burning the logs in your woodstove than by sending them to a plant to generate electricity and then using electricity to heat your home.