The Path to Cleaner Energy

The Path to Cleaner Energy

Wind power's role in weaning America off fossil fuels holds vast untapped potential for domestic energy production and green jobs.

By Philip Warburg
Published: 05/30/2012

Offshore wind is another huge energy resource, virtually untapped in America, though a growing contributor to European power generation. NREL has concluded that U.S. ocean waters within fifty nautical miles of land, plus U.S. portions of the Great Lakes, could yield 4,000 gigawatts of wind-generating capacity,6 bringing our combined onshore and offshore wind energy potential to 15,000 gigawatts. That's nearly fifty times the amount of wind energy that the Department of Energy says we will need to harness to supply 20 percent of our nation's power needs by 2030.

A whole host of environmental, aesthetic, and logistical concerns can make many a wind-rich site a poor prospect for building a wind farm. From my own advocacy for onshore and offshore wind energy in New England, I know how huge a leap it can be from identifying a resource to seeing wind blades spinning on the horizon. Whether the concerns are about harm to wildlife, noise, inadequate access to transmission, or simply the interrupted view, the realm of sites acceptable to policymakers and the public is considerably smaller than the universe of wind-worthy areas. We may not want to develop every promising wind site in the nation, but it's clear that wind energy could become a mainstay of our energy economy using just a small fraction of the available resource.

Excerpt from Harvest the Wind by Philip Warburg. Copyright (c) 2012 by Philip Warburg. Reprinted by permission of Beacon Press, Boston.

Author Profile

Philip Warburg

Philip Warburg was president of the Conservation Law Foundation, New England's leading environmental advocacy group, from 2003 to 2009. Previously, he ran the Israel Union for Environmental Defense in Tel Aviv and was an attorney at the Environmental Law Institute in Washington, D.C. He has also worked with governments and citizen groups on anti-pollution initiatives in Egypt, Jordan, Palestine, and across Eastern Europe.

Type: Author | From: Audubon Magazine



Do you feel that a scenic vista of thousands of propellers is more beautiful than reclaimed coal mine property? And the rich don't want these things crowding in their expensive home views. So we, the middle class, will be stuck with these ugly gargantuans in OUR back yards. Plus, if chaos theory is correct, and a butterfly flapping its wings in China causes a thunderstorm in Kansas, what will the downwind weather effects of the huge farms needed will be? This is great for people who own farms to rent, and the tiny group that will be employed in this field. It's total bull that hundreds of thousands of jobs will be created, and you know it.


Hello Mr. Warburg: I work for the European Wind Energy Association in Brussels and am wondering if you have a position on wind farms and bird mortality.
Chris Rose

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