Photo Wikimedia Commons, CC 1.0 Share Alike
In October 2009 Scientific American (SA) magazine hosted an investigation to "Power 100 Percent of the Planet with Renewables." They decided that it was indeed feasible, and they suggested a mix of technologies to accomplish that goal.
"Our plan calls for millions of wind turbines, water machines and solar installations..."" (Scientific American)
Repeatedly the first option listed was wind. Wind power has a long and successful history and is quite widespread in some parts of the world generating about 20% of Denmark's electricity right now. The US has significant wind potential and many regions where the wind blows almost continuously. As the Danes have shown, placing turbines just offshore is extremely viable.
Polls of Americans consistently show broad support for wind and other clean renewables, even before Fukushima. A N. Carolina poll showed 80% favoring wind farm construction and 83% supporting solar farms (AP, March 1 2010, Elon poll shows support for wind, solar energy).
The call for a federal Renewable Energy Standard (RES) of 25% by 2025 won a 77% approval rate from 600 likely voters in a poll conducted by Public Opinion Strategies, March 2010.
People seem to understand that investing in alternative energy means jobs and security.
Global Wind Leader: Denmark
The nation of Denmark also controls about one third of the world's wind turbine market. Their R and D was pushed extensively in the early days by government subsidies.
"Energy taxes were channeled into research centers" It also mandated that utilities purchase wind energy at a preferential price -- thus guaranteeing investors a customer base." (TIME, Feb 25, 2009)
Currently Denmark simply exports excess wind generated power to its neighbors when winds are high, and then buys back from them when winds die down.
"Nuclear Power? No Thanks."
That headline helped ban nuclear plant construction in 1980. Volunteers of Denmark's "OOA" delivered pamphlets to every household. Their decisive grassroots victory succeeded in forcing the turn toward renewables like wind. Denmark's example shows that this is the cornerstone of changing a government's energy policy. The citizens must rise up and demand a change in the law, a change in the tax structure, a change in the incentives.
The Danish government has actually promoted cooperatives where people invest together in community wind turbine projects. This idea has led to the installation of over 5,000 grass roots turbines. The concept then spread to Germany and the Netherlands. People are encouraged to invest and can even profit from their local wind power.
"households may invest more than their own consumption plus 50%. However, revenues from any amount over this limit are taxed." (wind-works.org, Paul Gipe)