T. Boone Pickens, our favorite Texas-oil-baron-turned-wind-wildcatter, has placed an order for 667 wind turbines from GE for a total cost of $2 billion. The turbines will have a generating capacity of 1,000 megawatts, enough to power 300,000 homes. The order was made through Pickens’ Mesa Power for his Pampa Wind Project in the Texas Panhandle, which he aims to turn into the world’s largest wind farm, generating some 4,000 megawatts of power as early as 2014.
This has been a week of big wind announcements. The Department of Energy released a report optimistically predicting America’s ability to satisfy 20 percent of its electricity needs with wind power by 2030. Across the pond, Scottish & Southern Energy awarded $3 billion in contracts to Texas-based Fluor and Germany’s Siemens to create the world’s largest offshore wind farm. The Greater Gabbard project would produce 504 megawatts and SSE plans to have power generation start by 2011.
Pickens, who made his billions in the Texas oil industry and founded BP Capital Management, has become a very vocal opponent of long-term oil investments, predicting that oil will hit $150 a barrel. And speaking yesterday at the 2008 Alternative Fuels and Vehicles Conference and Expo in Las Vegas, Pickens had some strong words against biofuels, saying:
“Biofuels will never amount to but 5 percent of the requirement of this country…Ethanol is a sad deal…It’s an ugly baby…”
After his speech he sat down with reporters and discussed energy politics, during which he stressed that transmission issues are still the biggest problem facing America’s energy supply. He also said he wants to see the equivalent of the Eisenhower highway system for power distribution.
Transmission lines are no doubt adding to the cost of building wind farms in Texas. The state could spend anywhere between $2.95 billion and $6.38 billion on laying new lines, according to a recent report. And T. Boone Pickens has also said his wind farm will cost as much as $10 billion to build.