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Billonaire T. Boone Pickens is pulling out of the 4 GW Texas wind farm he planned to pour $10B USD into. A death-blow to the project happened when the deal to build high-power transmission lines fell through.  (Source: foxtwo)

T. Boone Pickens is instead returning his attention to natural gas, though remaining optimistic on wind power. He claims that natural gas is our nation's "only option".  (Source: Horn River News)
Billionaire says he will turn to natural gas instead

Oil baron T. Boone Pickens made headlines when he announced that he would be making a massive investment in wind power.  He had made plans for a 4 GW wind farm in Pampa, Texas a town along U.S. Highway 60 northeast of Amarillo.  The site was set to become the largest wind farm in the U.S.

However, a mere 667 turbines into the construction (likely about a sixth of the total planned turbines) Mr. Pickens is pulling out of the "green gold" project of which he has contributed $10B USD.  A deciding factor was the difficulties in securing heavy transmission lines need to link the generators to the nation's power grid.   Mr. Pickens tried to get financing for the lines, but the deal fell through.

Now he is pulling out of the project, mostly.  He states, "The capital markets have dealt us all a setback.  I am committed to 667 wind turbines and I am going to find projects for them.  I expect to continue development of the Pampa project, but not at the pace that I originally expected."

Mr. Pickens made a fortune off his venture oil and gas firm Mesa Petroleum that after initial success began gobbling up oil and natural gas companies in the 1980s.  Now it appears that Mr. Pickens is returning to his roots.  He comments that natural gas is "the only option at this point" and continues, "There's no other, there's nothing else to replace it. It's the one and only resource in America that today can replace foreign oil. It is a cleaner, abundant fuel."

Still he remains optimistic on wind power, stating, "We've got more wind than anybody else in the world, just like they have more oil.  I think that's the future of this country.  We'll get there."

President Obama's alternative energy efforts have pleased Mr. Pickens, as does a new bill which will offer tax credits for the production of alternative fuels vehicles, including cars that can run on natural gas.  In addition to introduce new tax credits the bill will require 50 percent of all new vehicles purchased or placed in service by the U.S. government by Dec. 31, 2014, to be capable of operating on compressed or liquefied natural gas.

Cheers Mr. Pickens, "We're going to now use natural gas in place of foreign oil."

Major wind and solar installations continue to gain traction in America, but the death of the Pickens project in Texas showcases the problems with America's power infrastructure.  America is suffering from a decrepit and poorly maintained power grid which not only lowers efficiencies (raising power costs) and contributes to brownouts, but also hinders alternative energy projects.  As America has expanded, the grid hasn't expanded quickly enough with it, as this project showcases.

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By Alexvrb on 7/9/2009 9:07:04 PM , Rating: 3
It is NOT a non-issue. He was referring to storage in terms of automotive usage. Not power plants, and not future storage solutions. Batteries will improve, yes, but right now we can't switch all our cars to electricity. Even if we did, charging a battery and then using said battery to power a motor isn't exactly super efficient either. I mean you're going Power Source (Coal, Nuclear, etc) -> Transmission (lines and infrastructure) -> Battery (AC/DC conversion required) -> Electric motors. It's still probably better than an ICE, but to what degree, especially with more efficient ICE designs in the pipeline (like HCCI).

As far as electric cars lacking an engine and transmission, this is only true for pure electrics. E-REVs like the Volt still have an engine, although it is only used to extend range and is not coupled to a transmission or the wheels. Not to mention traditional hybrids like the Prius and Insight, which have both an engine and a transmission. Both traditional hybrids and the Volt are designs which bridge the gap between gasoline cars and electrics.

On top of that, electric cars won't eliminate the need for repairs. It will reduce them, and will reduce required maintenence significantly. But there are lots of other things on a car to replace, chassis parts, climate control, tires, brakes, suspension. If your electric motor(s) or batteries do eventually fail, it will be costly to replace them, the industry will make sure of that.

Not to mention that in order to get better performance, some electrics will use a more traditional drivetrain (electric motor coupled to a gearbox). Tesla does this, heck they even tried a 2 gear transmission, but they couldn't secure one that could handle the abuse in time. So they settled for a strong one-gear fixed ratio transmission by Borg Warner that could handle the abuse (the ones with the early trans were locked permanently in second gear which reduced performance, and promised to replace them with the final trans later). I'm sure someone will try 2+ gears again.

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