For the 20 percent wind scenario to work, billions must be spent on installing wind towers on land and sea and about 22,000 miles of new high-tech power lines to carry the electricity to cities, according to the study from the Energy Department's National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
"Twenty percent wind is an ambitious goal," said David Corbus, the project manager for the study. "We can bring more wind power online, but if we don't have the proper infrastructure to move that power around, it's like buying a hybrid car and leaving it in the garage,"
The private sector cannot fund all the needed spending, so a big chunk would have to come from the federal government through programs such as loan guarantees, Corbus said.
The Obama administration is already dedicating billions of dollars to double the amount of electricity produced by wind and other
by January 2012.
The amount of U.S. electricity generated by wind was up 29 percent during January-October of last year compared to the same period is 2008, according to the Energy Department.
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