In response to climate change concerns, rising fossil fuel prices, and national security threats, alternative energy technologies that use renewable resources are playing a more prominent role in the market. Technologies for using renewable resources are changing quickly, as current technologies are improved and new ones are created. The market for renewable energy is also expanding at a relatively rapid rate; the average growth rate of renewable energy consumption in the United States from 2003 to 2007 was 3%, while the average growth rate of total energy consumption was 1% (U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration).
Every type of electricity or fuel production, distribution and use impacts the natural environment, although renewable energy technologies tend to be less harmful to wildlife than fossil-fuel based technologies. EMEP funds studies evaluating the environmental effects of alternative energy technologies. These studies are intended to help address key policy-relevant questions:
- What are the potential impacts of emerging alternative energy technologies in New York and the region, and how do they compare to those of traditional fossil-fuel technologies?
- What opportunities exist in New York State for the development of these technologies?
- What are the optimal strategies to minimize the potential environmental impacts of alternative energy technologies?