Wind Power Could Generate 20% of U.S. Electricity by 2020; Renewable Fuels Can Largely Replace Gasoline by 2050
“The New Harvest: BIOFUELS and Windpower for Rural Revitalization and National Energy Security” is a 47-page study co-authored by Patrick Mazza (Climate Solutions) and Eric Heitz (President – Energy Foundation). It was released in November 2005.
The study finds that renewable fuels from crops can largely replace gasoline. Wind power can generate a major share of U.S. electricity. America’s rural and agricultural heartland can be the go-to supplier for the nation’s energy future. And the U.S. can dramatically reduce global warming pollution while increasing its energy security.
Biofuels made from grains and vegetable oils now supply around two percent of the nation’s light-duty vehicle fuel. However, studies by leading national research institutions show that biofuels, when teamed with more efficient vehicles and smart growth, could virtually replace gasoline use in light duty vehicles by 2050.
That would displace nearly eight million barrels of Oil daily, more than three times the U.S.’s current Persian Gulf imports. This could be accomplished with only a modest increase in cropland as part of a system that also generates the food and fiber America needs.
Advanced biofuels made from cellulose (i.e., plant matter including grasses and crop residues), of which most of the plant world is constituted, will unlock this promise. Cellulose offers vastly larger and less expensive feedstocks than grains. With policies to commercialize the first billion gallons of CAPACITY on the ground by 2015, a burgeoning cellulosic ETHANOL industry could add $5 billion to farmer profits by 2025.
Wind power, still generating under one percent of U.S. electricity, is the world’s fastest growing energy source with cast, untapped potential.
Moreover, the U.S. has even greater wind power potential than previously thought, with one-quarter of the nation sustaining wind speeds capable of generating competitively priced electricity.
Rural landowners are earning around $2,000 – $5,000 per turbine annually leasing land to wind developers and even greater returns are possible with local ownership. Wind farms are also a tax revenue and employment boon to rural counties.
The Great Plains has the largest land-based wind prospects but wind farms now operate in 26 states from Vermont to Tennessee to Oregon. In fact, new research shows vast areas of the U.S. could produce wind power at costs competitive with Coal and Natural Gas electricity.
With the right policies, wind growth could provide 10 percent of U.S. power supplies by 2020.
However, fully realizing the potential to build the infant farm energy sector into a major national energy player over the coming several decades will require strong public policy support.
The report offers public policy agendas to support the growth of wind power and advanced biofuels.
Key policies for wind include RENEWABLE ENERGY standards production TAX CREDITS, and policies to ensure adequate transmission as the “road to market” for new wind power.
Supportive policies for biofuels include expanded federal R&D and deployment, strengthened renewable fuel standards, government procurement of E-85 vehicles, and improved vehicle fuel economy.