Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Oil for Wind Program

If the energy bill passed by the House (but not the Senate) would have drawn down $13.5B over ten years in oil industry subsidies, and assuming you could frictionlessly redeploy this money, what could you buy? Follow this simple, klunky math to gauge the magnitude of $13.5B:

Subsidies forgone by the oil industry in the failed energy bill: $13,500,000,000 over ten years

If it cost $1M to build a 1 MW wind turbine,

You could buy 13,500 wind turbines outright, or,

If you subsidized 25% of wind turbines' construction cost

Then 13,500 turbines x 4 (representing the 25% subsidy): 54,000 turbines

Since 1 GW = 1,000 MW

New wind power created: 54 GW

Current US Renewable Nameplate Capacity: 26.5 GW

So you could more than double US renewable energy capacity by 2018. Since wind competes on cost with other power sources on occasion now, a 25 percent subsidy ought to make wind consistently, broadly competitive.

Sure, these calcs might be simplistic and hurried, but they're intended to serve as a ten minute assessment of the opportunity to buy the future instead of simply continuing to dole out for what the future used to be. Transform the oil subsidy into the wind subsidy. The Oil for Wind Program.