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Wind power potential

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A new study says wind power could meet 20% of the energy needs of the eastern United States. But to get there, the nation needs to invest in a lot of infrastructure. Samara Freemark reports.

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The study was released by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. That's a federal lab that develops green technologies.

Researchers wanted to see what it would take to increase wind energy enough that it could provide 20% of power for the eastern United States. What they found was, we need a lot more transmission infrastructure.

David Corbus worked on the study. He says transmission lines would connect turbines offshore and in the Midwest to cities on the east coast.

"You have to get all that wind energy to where people can use it. So you have to build a lot of transmission. Which can be difficult to build."

Difficult, and expensive. Corbus says those investments could cost more than fifteen billion dollars. But he points out that that's actually a relatively small amount compared to the total that the nation spends on energy.

The lab will release a similar study on the western states in a few months.

For The Environment Report, I'm Samara Freemark.

Copyright 2010. The Regents of the University Of Michigan. Used with permission.

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