The recent events have demonstrated the need for the United States to become totally self sufficient in energy.
The American people can achieve this goal, and it can be accomplished right now.
Wind energy has the potential to provide over one and one-half times the total electricity that is consumed on the North American continent. Class 4 wind energy, which can provide enough power to achieve self sufficiency, is located on just 6% of the land area of the U.S. The best wind energy is located in the Plains, and some of the most productive is located in southwest Kansas. The maps of the Class 4 winds are located at www.nrel.gov, which is the web site of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
According to some of the information I have seen, a Class 4 wind area, what we have in southwest Kansas, can produce about 11.65 million kilowatt hours of electricity per year per square kilometer (247 acres). These figures are from several years ago, and the new wind turbines are more efficient now.
If you sell the electricity for one cent per kilowatt hour and you take the 1.7-cent tax credit from the U.S. Department of Energy, you can realize about $1,273.48 per acre annually, give or take. That is about $815,028.34 per square mile per year, give or take a few dollars. Remember, that is at a sale price of one cent per kilowatt hour, not a very fair price at all. As the technology of wind turbines progress, these figures only can get better.
So, why don't we (people) have a wind farm up and running? First, the technology is new and still developing. In addition, a couple of issues come to mind, just for starters. How does a farmer, rancher or land owner afford the expensive wind turbines? The federal government can provide low interest loan guarantees. No money needs to be spent unless the borrower defaults. These programs are in the farm bill and just need to be enhanced.
Next, how can isolated and remote land produce power if the wind turbines cannot be connected to the electric power grid? In this case, with wind power, you can produce an intermediary product that can be readily sold in an established market. When it is not feasible to connect directly to the power grid, you can use the wind turbine to hydrolyze water (split water with electricity) into hydrogen and oxygen. Both can be sold in a currently available market.
Another possibility, perhaps the best, is to convert the hydrogen into ammonia for use in fuel cells. This ammonia is an intermediary product that has lots of uses, and is easily stored and transported. You can use it for fertilizer, or use it in a fuel cell to produce electricity. Later, as more fuel cells are used, the demand for hydrogen (or ammonia) will expand.
The following are some of the benefits of this technology.
1. The fuel cell is the way dependable electricity and heat can be generated with wind power. This is how you can store wind energy.
2. Fuel cells are very efficient. Farms, homes, hospitals, schools, motels, government buildings, shopping malls, feedlots--the list is almost endless--can use this technology to produce their electricity and heat.
3. All this technology is green and environmentally friendly.
4. All of this technology can be used to displace foreign oil.
5. The American land owner--a farmer or rancher--can put this new technology to work to generate a new income stream and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.
Every bit of the equipment and technology is available and off-the-shelf right now. No other innovations need be achieved.
I think this sounds kind of patriotic and seems to make a lot of sense.--Bruce Whitaker, Sublette, KS.