T. Boone Pickens ideas about wind energy make sense but as Greg Watson points out in his superb blog "12 Degrees of Freedom"
we'd be far better off converting the nation's vehicle fleet to electric power instead of natural gas. For a detailed explanation as to why this is true, see the following article by Harvard professor Michael McElroy. (JA)
The Pickens Plan:
America is addicted to foreign oil.
It's an addiction that threatens our economy, our environment and our national security. It touches every part of our daily lives and ties our hands as a nation and a people.
The addiction has worsened for decades and now it's reached a point of crisis.
In 1970, we imported 24% of our oil. Today it's nearly 70% and growing.
As imports grow and world prices rise, the amount of money we send to foreign nations every year is soaring. At current oil prices, we will send $700 billion dollars out of the country this year alone — that's four times the annual cost of the Iraq war.
Projected over the next 10 years the cost will be $10 trillion — it will be the greatest transfer of wealth in the history of mankind.
America uses a lot of oil. Every day 85 million barrels of oil are produced around the world. And 21 million of those are used here in the United States.
That's 25% of the world's oil demand. Used by just 4% of the world's population.
Can't we just produce more oil?
World oil production peaked in 2005. Despite growing demand and an unprecedented increase in prices, oil production has fallen over the last three years. Oil is getting more expensive to produce, harder to find and there just isn't enough of it to keep up with demand.
The simple truth is that cheap and easy oil is gone.
What's the good news?
The United States is the Saudi Arabia of wind power.
Studies from around the world show that the Great Plains States are home to the greatest wind energy potential in the world — by far.
The Department of Energy reports that 20% of America's electricity can come from wind. North Dakota alone has the potential to provide power for more than a quarter of the country.
Today's wind turbines stand up to 410 feet tall, with blades that stretch 148 feet in length. The blades collect the wind's kinetic energy. In one year, a 3-megawatt wind turbine produces as much energy as 12,000 barrels of imported oil.
Wind power currently accounts for 48 billion kWh of electricity a year in the United States — enough to serve more than 4.5 million households. That is still only about 1% of current demand, but the potential of wind is much greater.
A 2005 Stanford University study found that there is enough wind power worldwide to satisfy global demand 7 times over — even if only 20% of wind power could be captured.
Building wind facilities in the corridor that stretches from the Texas panhandle to North Dakota could produce 20% of the electricity for the United States at a cost of $1 trillion. It would take another $200 billion to build the capacity to transmit that energy to cities and towns.
That's a lot of money, but it's a one-time cost. And compared to the $700 billion we spend on foreign oil every year, it's a bargain. READ MORE »