“The New Harvest: Biofuels and Windpower for Rural Revitalization and
National Energy Security” is a 47-page study co-authored by Patrick Mazza
(Climate Solutions) and Eric Heitz (President – Energy Foundation). It
was released in November 2005.
The study finds that renewable fuels from crops can largely replace
gasoline. Wind power can generate a major share of U.S. electricity.
America’s rural and agricultural heartland can be the go-to supplier for
the nation’s energy future. And the U.S. can dramatically reduce global
warming pollution while increasing its energy security.
Biofuels made from grains and vegetable oils now supply around two percent
of the nation’s light-duty vehicle fuel. However, studies by leading
national research institutions show that biofuels, when teamed with more
efficient vehicles and smart growth, could virtually replace gasoline use
in light duty vehicles by 2050.
That would displace nearly eight million barrels of oil daily, more than
three times the U.S.’s current Persian Gulf imports. This could be
accomplished with only a modest increase in cropland as part of a system
that also generates the food and fiber America needs.
Advanced biofuels made from cellulose (i.e., plant matter including
grasses and crop residues), of which most of the plant world is
constituted, will unlock this promise. Cellulose offers vastly larger and
less expensive feedstocks than grains. With policies to commercialize the
first billion gallons of capacity on the ground by 2015, a burgeoning
cellulosic ethanol industry could add $5 billion to farmer profits by
Wind power, still generating under one percent of U.S. electricity, is the
world’s fastest growing energy source with cast, untapped potential.
Moreover, the U.S. has even greater wind power potential than previously
thought, with one-quarter of the nation sustaining wind speeds capable of
generating competitively priced electricity.
Rural landowners are earning around $2,000 – $5,000 per turbine annually
leasing land to wind developers and even greater returns are possible with
local ownership. Wind farms are also a tax revenue and employment boon to
The Great Plains has the largest land-based wind prospects but wind farms
now operate in 26 states from Vermont to Tennessee to Oregon. In fact,
new research shows vast areas of the U.S. could produce wind power at
costs competitive with coal and natural gas electricity.
With the right policies, wind growth could provide 10 percent of U.S.
power supplies by 2020.
However, fully realizing the potential to build the infant farm energy
sector into a major national energy player over the coming several decades
will require strong public policy support.
The report offers public policy agendas to support the growth of wind
power and advanced biofuels.
Key policies for wind include renewable energy standards production tax
credits, and policies to ensure adequate transmission as the “road to
market” for new wind power.
Supportive policies for biofuels include expanded federal R&D and
deployment, strengthened renewable fuel standards, government procurement
of E-85 vehicles, and improved vehicle fuel economy.
The full report can be found on-line at:
Background on the “Factoid” Series:
In summer 2005, several of the organizations that comprise the Sustainable
Energy Coalition drafted a document entitled the “Sustainable Energy
The “Blueprint” proposes that the goals of the nation’s energy policy
should be to:
1.) promote energy-saving technologies in all sectors of the economy –
including energy-efficient buildings, appliances, lighting, vehicles, and
industrial processes as well as co-generation, district energy, and fuel
2.) promote environmentally-responsible applications of the cross-section
of renewable energy technologies including biofuels, biomass, geothermal,
hydropower, ocean, solar, wind, and renewably-based hydrogen;
3.) reduce greenhouse gas emissions to a level consistent with a
world-wide goal of global climate stabilization (e.g., curbing U.S. CO2
emissions by 60-80% from current levels by no later than mid-century);
4.) eliminate U.S. energy imports (i.e., oil and natural gas – are now 58%
and 15% respectively), while reducing overall use of oil, coal, and
natural gas; and
5.) phase out the current generation of nuclear power and not construct
new reactors in their place.
To demonstrate that it is technically and economically feasible to realize
these goals, given the necessary political support, the Sustainable Energy
Coalition is compiling a series of “factoids.”
Each “factoid” is a summary of a study on the potential of renewable
energy and energy efficiency produced by a governmental, business,
academic, or non-profit organization.
Each factoid provides a summary of the key findings of the study – often
derived from the study’s media-release materials or executive summary.
Additional information is provided on how to obtain a copy of the full