The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has released a ground-breaking report concluding that using wind power to generate 20 percent of the nation's electricity is achievable -- without any new technological breakthroughs. The DOE's report "20% Wind Energy by 2030" stated that by accelerating the growth of wind power the nation's consumption of natural gas could be reduced by 11 percent and consumption of coal by 18 percent annually -- providing a reduction of 825 tons of carbon dioxide emissions linked to global warming every year.
"This is the equivalent of taking 140 million cars off the road," said Randall Swisher, of the American Wind Energy Association.
"We can do this nationally for less than half a cent per kilowatt hour if we have the vision," said Andrew Karsner, the DOE's assistant secretary for efficiency and renewable energy.
According to the DOE's report, the growth rate needed to reach 20% would pose challenges for the wind energy industry but is achievable. Already, the wind industry is attracting many new entrants -- traditional utilities like Florida Power and Light (NYSE: FPL), smaller wind developers and even big oil companies.
On Monday, legendary oil man T Boone Pickens placed a $2 Billion order for wind turbines from GE (NYSE: GE). Pickens is among many in the oil and gas industry that are investing heavily in wind. "It's time for America to change the way we think about wind power," said Bob Lukefahr of BP North America (NYSE: BP). Both BP and rival Shell (NYSE: RDS.A) are major players in the wind energy space.
Smaller wind companies are also thriving. This week Nacel Energy (OTC Bulletin Board: NCEN), a Wyoming headquartered wind developer, announced a 600 MW joint-venture wind project. CNBC guest analyst Francis Gaskins was first to cover Nacel Energy when it IPO'd last year -- and analysts at Advisory Research have published a new higher $5.03 price target on the Company.