ArsTechnica reports that NASA’s JPL scientists have identified optimal wind farm locations by analyzing eight years of global satellite data. And I missed this announcement: oil baron T. Boone Pickens (personal networth: $2.7bn) is investing $12 billion in a wind farm in west Texas. True to Texas mythology, it will be the largest in the world when completed, and it will start generating power in three years.
Newsweek compares the Pickens campaign with that of another Texan, H. Ross Perot in 1992. After all, oil prices and imports is not a headliner for either Sen. Barack Obama or Sen. John McCain, the presumed D and R presidential candidates. And Congress and the President aren’t talking about it either.
Pickens — who kicked off his $58 million campaign with an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal — thinks spending $700 billion annually on foreign oil — to import about 70% of the oil we use — is “dangerous, and it threatens the future of our nation.” He has done a complete about face on this topic (if he were a politician, someone would accuse him of flip-flopping) — in 2005, he pooh-pooed the idea of wind-based energy:
I was in wind energy for a minute … I hate it. And when I got to looking at those damn things I said, I don’t want to be a part of putting that on the horizon. We took a loss and got out of it and I’m glad I did.
But that was then. Today, like many of us, Pickens thinks the nation needs another infrastructure project like Eisenhower’s Interstate system — but this time related to energy. And according to Pickens, the Department of Energy says that we could generate 20% of our electrical supply from wind — by 2030. He thinks we can — and must — do so faster. The impediment? Congress & the President.
According to the UK Independent, a farmer could earn $10,000 a year on a quarter-acre, about 3% of the value of the electricity produced. Conversely, if that quarter-acre were used for corn for ethanol, the net is about $300. There is still a potential impact on food costs, assuming that the land is viable for human- or animal-grade corn production. But food costs are going to rise, even in America where we pay less of our disposable income on food than most of the globe.
Watch his YouTube commercial, and revel in that Texas drawl (7 July 2008 ):