A report released on Monday by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) indicates that the U.S. could meet 20% of its electricity needs with wind energy by 2030. While achieving that goal is technically feasible, the report estimates it would require $197 billion in investments, especially in the infrastructure of interstate transmission.
Unfortunately, the DOE stopped short of endorsing any specific policy that would help reach the 20% goal. And with considerable uncertainty about the current state of renewable energy tax credits, one might ask what policy vehicle would get us there that quickly.
The expenditure needed to reach the 20% goal would only be $43 billion, or 2%, higher than if the U.S. didn't add any wind whatsoever and reached the same power capacity from other sources, the DOE and its industry collaborators said in the report.
Andy Karsner, DOE assistant secretary for energy efficiency and renewable energy called arguments against wind power as an unreliable and marginal source of power,"frivolous and uninformed," at a Monday press conference.
The report also highlighted the importance of proper siting of wind projects, as well as mitigation of effects on wildlife and other environmental issues. It noted that the 20% outcome would reduce cumulative water consumption by the electric sector by 8% from 2007 through 2030. This would be especially important for the arid states of the interior West.