Thursday, March 23, 2006

The coming wind energy economy

I've beaten the wind energy drum pretty hard here, not least because it offers answers to a lot of questions that Kansans are asking about the state's economic future. It's perfect for large, low population density areas with lots of wind, a good match for a state named after the people of the south wind. The president of the Earth Policy Institute describes how Wind Energy Demand is Blowing Past Supply, with a Texas energy company having to raffle off access to its wind power supply due to excess demand:
Wind energy is emerging as a centerpiece of the new energy economy, because it is abundant, inexpensive, inexhaustible, widely distributed, clean, and climate-benign. Three of the 50 states--North Dakota, Kansas, and Texas--have enough harnessable wind energy to satisfy national electricity needs. The cost of wind-generated electricity has fallen from 38¢ per kilowatt-hour in the early 1980s to 4¢ to 6¢ today, offering an almost endless supply of cheap energy.
In the next few decades, the water under western Kansas will not be able to sustain a lot of the agriculture that exists. Wind farms would be a great source of income for those local economies, and wouldn't interfere with farming or ranching, since the footprint of a turbine is relatively small.

In 2005, we imported 12.4 million barrels of oil every day. We used about 341 thousand barrels a day to produce electricity in 2004. If electricity were cheap and renewable, electric cars would be more feasible, and we'd see a bigger impact on cutting oil usage. Plus, cheap electricity could be used for local generation of hydrogen gas at gas stations, and in numerous other applications where petroleum products are currently used for energy.

If I were running for governor, you'd be hearing a lot about this from me.

This is a jump-ball.