Yesterday, legendary oilman T. Boone Pickens unveiled his plan to wean America off of its foreign oil addiction. The guy doesn't need any additional PR -- Pickens is getting coverage from mainstream news outlets to YouTube and Facebook -- but the plan is worth perusing.
The Pickens Plan basically has two prongs:
- Build $1 trillion worth of wind facilities in gusty Middle America, plus another $200 billion in transmission infrastructure, in order to provide 20% of our annual electricity needs.
- Take all the natural gas presently used to fire power plants that would be offset by this wind power and use it as a transportation fuel instead.
Obviously this isn't a solution for the long term, because it shifts our dependence from one depleting hydrocarbon resource to another. But as a bridge to more sustainable arrangements, the idea holds some appeal.
Government research indicates that wind power is cost-competitive with new coal-fired plants. Throw in environmental and legislative concerns, and it's pretty clear why proposed coal plants are getting scrapped, while planned wind facilities equal somewhere around 13 times the current U.S. installed base. Developers are throwing up turbines as fast as General Electric
Also, in terms of natural gas versus oil, there are both security and economic benefits to cutting down on those ocean voyages from West Africa and the Middle East -- bad for Frontline
There are plenty of potential problems with this plan, many of which have been addressed elsewhere. First of all, while I'm sure transmission titan ITC Holdings