Texas oil man T. Boone Pickens is commencing action, with plans for his company, Mesa Power, to build, over the next four years, the previously announced $10 billion wind farm, the world's largest, that will eventually generate 4,000 megawatts of electricity - the equivalent of building two commercial scale nuclear power plants - enough power for about 1 million homes.
Next month Mesa Power, will begin buying land and ordering the first 500 wind turbines of the 2,700 turbines required for the project, at about $2 million each, to be located across 200,000 acres of the Texan panhandle.
"Don't get the idea that I've turned green. My business is making money, and I think this is going to make a lot of money."
Pickens grand plan, not to be built by him, for resolving the energy needs of the US. is to build wind farms on a corridor of land running north to south through the middle of the US - along the great plains and to harvest solar energy from a corridor running east to west from Texas to southern California.
Pickens certainly thinks big, and somebody has to, as the U.S. government is doing little to resolve our compounding needs for new power sources. I assume thermal solar power would be used for the solar part of his plan as it currently is much less expensive than PV solar and thermal solar power can be quite easily adapted to thermal storage, although that brings the price up to where the total cost is quite expensive.
The only other comment I have is on Pickens grand scheme, and that would be to utilize geothermal power in addition to solar and wind. Conventional geothermal would be used in the northwestern part of the U.S., primarily in California, Nevada, Idaho and Oregon, Hawaii and along parts of the New England coast. Hot dry rock or deep geothermal/EGS can be used in almost all of the U.S. and would serve the southern and eastern parts of the country, where solar and wind are not particularly applicable. The current cost of geothermal is comparable to natural gas power and thus is very attractive. Geothermal has the advantage of being a baseload power source, whereas wind and solar are not particularly suited for this application. Thermal storage can be added to thermal solar but that would be more costly than geothermal. Significantly improved utilization of wind and solar can be obtained by tying geographically diverse sources together with an extensive grid. However, that is costly and would have to be studied in detail.
I personally think that a part of this plan would have to be to use generation III+ nuclear reactors and clean coal with sequestration to compliment the renewable power portions of this plan. This will be required to improve the baseload properties of the grid and provide the required power we need until the renewable power providers have built up sufficient capability. If Pickens, through his companies, can finance a $10 billion project that will supply 4 gigawatts of power, I would think that there would be several other companies, utility companies in particular, that could spend that much and supply all the incremental needs for power. Companies like Glitner and Chevron are capable of very large geothermal plants. Other diversified oil companies could get into the act as the supplies of oil get even more expensive and the world turns to electrictity as a larger and larger share of its power supply.