By Dan Shapley
It still accounts for less than 1 percent of the nation's energy supply, but wind power is the fastest growing part of our energy portfolio -- by a long shot. The past decade has seen wind's energy output increase 361 percent -- making the U.S. the fastest growing user of wind power. It ranks third in the world, overall. The increase in wind usage is driven by three forces:
- The cheaper cost of investing in new wind turbines, relative to new coal and nuclear, or even natural gas plants, when the cost of future fuel is factored in.
- Government subsidies.
- Consumer demand. More and more people are signing up to pay extra on their utility bills in order to invest in wind power.
Wind has a long way to go if it is to become a major player, though. At a fraction of 1 percent of total energy produced, it barely measures against coal (49 percent), natural gas (20 percent) and nuclear (19 percent), according to a story in the June 5 Investor's Business Daily.