Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A proposed solution to America's energy crisis

As a partial solution to America's dependence on foreign oil, U.S. oilman Boone Pickens proposes to build wind farms throughout the Great Plains. The Economist summarizes the Pickens Plan:
AMERICANS spend $700 billion a year on foreign oil. According to one observer, this is an addiction, a crisis, and a trap. The country must pursue alternative energy sources as fiercely as it once shot for the moon. So far, so much liberal boilerplate. The critic in question, however, is a Republican oilman: T. Boone Pickens. As he puts it, in an Okie drawl: “I’ve been an oilman all my life. But this is one emergency we can’t drill our way out of.” He wants America to make a huge investment in wind-power infrastructure. During this election season, he will personally spend $58m to make the case. ...

A report from the Department of Energy said in May that America could build enough wind farms to provide 20% of the nation’s electricity by 2030. The Pickens plan calls for America to meet this goal by building wind farms throughout the windy corridor that runs up the country from Texas to the Dakotas. It would cost $1 trillion to build them, plus another $200 billion to connect them to places where the power is most needed, which lie inconveniently far away from the corridor.

That is a staggering outlay, but it would free up American natural gas, which now generates 22% of the country’s electricity, to be used for motor vehicles. The idea is that Americans could switch en masse to natural gas vehicles, and the country could stop importing so much oil.

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