Wind Power Gets Favorable Breeze from the Mideast

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"DOE says wind power could generate 20% of U.S. electricity by 2030."

If it's true that markets constantly cycle between the emotional poles of greed and fear, then the energy sector right now is in fear mode—spooked by what's happening to oil prices. Political unrest and uncertainty in the Middle East have sent crude soaring—and that spike in prices is once again drawing the public's attention back toward alternative energy sources, in particular solar and wind power.

Analysts say that neither wind or solar power (although many public solar companies are on the rise right now) are the magic bullet to solve the problem of America's addiction to oil—and like other industries, both have been hit hard by the financial crisis. But researchers and investors, particularly in wind power, aren't giving up.

According to the Global Wind Energy Council, worldwide wind power capacity increased by 22% last year—and most of that was added outside of the older and traditionally stronger North American and European markets. In 2010, China surpassed the U.S. in total installed wind capacity.

"Our industry continues to endure a boom-bust cycle because of the lack of long-term, predictable federal policies, in contrast to the permanent entitlements that fossil fuels have enjoyed for 90 years or more," says Denise Bode, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association,

Of course, wind power depends on the weather—and that variability has led to skepticism about whether it could ever be more than a supplement to traditional energy sources.

20% by 2030?

The Obama administration has pushed to have wind power and other alternative energies generate a greater percentage of America's electrical output. A DOE report details a scenario whereby wind power could be responsible for 20% of U.S. electricity production by the year 2030.

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