How much electricity can wind power generate?

This is a great possible solution – I hope the American Wind Energy Association claims are realistic!

Wind power is growing by leaps and bounds (from 4,800 megawatts in 1995 to 31,100 in 2002, according to Worldwatch), and as more people build wind farms, the price of wind power drops. In fact, some recent wind projects are already cranking out electricity which is cheaper than nuclear energy and extremely competitive with coal and oil, with none of the radioactivity or greenhouse gas pollution. As Lester Brown notes, each time we’ve doubled the amount of wind power we’re using, the price has dropped by fifteen percent. And as far as we can tell, we’re nowhere near tapping out the prime wind power sites or maxing-out the cost savings.

When wind power’s price drops to a competitive level, the U,S. Federal Battelle Pacific Northwest Laboratory estimates, wind could quickly supply 20% of the nation’s electricity. Many other researchers think that, given consistent regulations, equal access to new transmission lines, and more modern power grids (which need to be built anyway, as the Great Blackout of 2003 showed), wind power could economically supply a third of the nation’s electricity by 2020.

The American Wind Energy Association goes even farther, claiming that “North Dakota alone is theoretically capable (if there were enough transmission capacity) of producing enough wind-generated power to meet more than one-third of U.S. electricity demand.” (Indeed, the wind-swept American High Plains states — the Dakotas, Nebraska, Montana, Wyoming, Kansas and Minnesota — have more than enough theoretical wind capacity to fuel the entire U.S. economy.) Regardless of whose figures you believe, wind’s realistic North American potential is still staggering. The wind-hydrogen combination makes it even more staggering.

Link WorldChanging: Another World Is Here: The Future is in the Flatlands