Many green energy experts have been touting wind power as a potential source of renewable energy sufficiently abundant to meet current energy demand in the United States. But a new report from Harvard University published this week by the National Academy of Sciences puts the total U.S. wind capacity much (much) higher than expected.

According to the study (PDF) which pulled together data from thousands of meteorological stations, the U.S. is a very wealthy nation when it comes to wind. If primary wind regions are harnessed, the U.S. could supply 16 times its current energy demand using wind power.

The U.S. is not alone. Other high-emission countries like Russia and China can far exceed current energy demand by implementing large-scale wind projects. China (which is building a new coal power plant every 10 days to keep up with its growing energy demand) could provide 18 times its current energy demand with wind.

It goes without saying that a great deal of infrastructure would need to be put in place to make this potential a reality, including a network of high-capacity transmission lines and technologies like flywheel energy storage

The best thing about wind is its capacity to replace the lagging (some would say dying) American automotive industry. A large 2.5 megawatt turbine contains a whole lot of steel and over 80,000 parts which translates into lots of jobs, many of which could be located in the midwest. 

Michael Goggin, an analyst for AWEA (the American Wind Energy Association) says that the report is further validation of the statement that the United States could become the "Saudi Arabia of wind."

Wind could provide 16x U.S. energy demand
New Harvard study demonstrates a massive, untapped source of renewable energy in the United States.