Wind power is coming of age as the U.S. becomes the global wind leader and probably the biggest source of new jobs in the energy industry.
ITC Holdings announced Monday plans to build a $10 to $12 billion power transmission network to move 12,000 megawatts of electricity from the Dakotas, Minnesota and Iowa to the Chicago area.
ITC called the plan, depicted above, the Green Power Express, saying it could
result in a reduction of up to 34 million metric tons of carbon emissions, which is equivalent to the annual emissions of about seven to nine 600 MW coal plants.
ITC made its announcement the same day a major study, the Joint Coordinated System Plan (JCSP), was released by the Midwest grid operator and other U.S. regional grid managers was released. It concluded that to increase wind power to 20% of electricity production by 2024 (requiring some 230 GW of wind) would require some 15,000 miles of new transmission costing $80 billion. The total cost of the wind would be some $1 trillion.
The WSJ reports this as “New Grid for Renewable Energy Could Be Costly.” But in fact the study found that “increasing wind’s share to 20 percent of U.S. power production would yield annual net savings of $12 billion annually by 2024 based on wind’s low production cost compared to the fossil plants the turbines would replace,” as Energy Daily (subs. req’d) explained.
Moreover, JCSP projects that the 20% scenario would save 3 billion tons of carbon over the next 16 years, which would generate in 2024 an annual value of some $40 billion a year at carbon prices comparable to that which the European Union has seen over the past year — and several times that if the price of carbon to reaches levels needed to stabilize at 450 ppm.
One reason I say windpower has come of age is because the announcement and the study don’t come from your traditional pro-wind trade groups or think tanks. Far from it.