Print 65 comment(s) - last by johnsmith9875.. on Mar 4 at 1:49 AM

But there are limits that could hold wind back from growing

A new study from Harvard University's School of Engineering and Applied Sciences says that the generating capacity of large-scale wind farms isn't quite as high as scientists previously thought.

The study was led by Harvard applied physicist David Keith, who showed that we may not have access to as much wind power as once thought. Keith is an internationally renowned expert on climate science.

According to Keith's study, individual wind turbines each create a "wind shadow," which is where air is slowed by the drag on the turbine's blades. Wind farms with as many turbines packed into an area as possible but with just the right amount of spacing in between them are optimal for decreasing this drag.

However, the larger these wind farms are, the more they communicate and regional-scale wind patterns are even more important. Keith said previous generating capacity of large-scale wind farms ignored the drags and these wind patterns.

Keith's study said that the generating capacity of large-scale wind farms that are larger than 100 square kilometers could peak anywhere from 0.5 and 1 watts per square meter. Prior estimates put these figures at 2 to 7 watts per square meter.

“If wind power’s going to make a contribution to global energy requirements that’s serious, 10 or 20 percent or more, then it really has to contribute on the scale of terawatts in the next half-century or less,” said Keith.

But there are limits that could hold wind back from growing. Keith said that if wind were to exceed 100 terawatts, it would have a huge impact on global winds and eventually climate -- which could negatively affect climate more than doubling CO2.

“Our findings don't mean that we shouldn’t pursue wind power—wind is much better for the environment than conventional coal—but these geophysical limits may be meaningful if we really want to scale wind power up to supply a third, let’s say, of our primary energy,” said Keith. 

“It’s clear the theoretical upper limit to wind power is huge, if you don't care about the impacts of covering the whole world with wind turbines. What’s not clear—and this is a topic for future research—is what the practical limit to wind power would be if you consider all of the real-world constraints. You'd have to assume that wind turbines need to be located relatively close to where people actually live and where there's a fairly constant wind supply, and that they have to deal with environmental constraints. You can’t just put them everywhere.”

Keith concluded that we'll need to find sources for tens of terawatts of carbon-free power "within a human lifetime" in order to stabilize the Earth's climate.

“It’s worth asking about the scalability of each potential energy source—whether it can supply, say, 3 terawatts, which would be 10 percent of our global energy need, or whether it’s more like 0.3 terawatts and 1 percent," said Keith.

Source: Harvard University

Comments     Threshold

This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

RE: Yet another reason to switch to nuclear
By Mobious918 on 2/27/2013 12:24:23 PM , Rating: 2
I'm a big supporter of Gen4 nuclear, especially LFTR's and Thorium energy. The problem is the general public is scared of nuclear energy b/c the media only shows the handful of plant failures that have happened in the past 30 years rather than giving the solid facts.

Fukushima started construction in 1967, 3 Mile Island started in 1968, and Chernobyl started around 1970. This is the average age of almost all the nuclear plants in the US because of people whining about the safety issues. The fact of the matter is nobody hears about how far the technology has come in the last 40+ years because the US doesn't have any new plants to show for it.

Modern nuclear is much safer and very efficient compared to the relics we have in operation today. And with ongoing research into alternative nuclear fuels like Thorium, which is 550 times more abundant than the U235 used in modern light water reactors, the potential for nuclear power replacing the base-load power consumption of the planet is a very real possibility. The current proposed LFTR design is even capable of burning the spent fuel from light water reactors, which eliminates the need for long-term radioactive containment. Now if only the politics and red tape would go away we'd be all set.

By anactoraaron on 2/27/2013 2:22:30 PM , Rating: 2
The problem is the general public is scared of nuclear energy b/c the media only shows the handful of plant failures that have happened in the past 30 years rather than giving the solid facts.

And why would the media do that? Hmmm... might it have something to do with the Coal/Oil/Solar/Wind companies shelling out $$$...

Doesn't the truth sometimes make you a bit sick to your stomach? Sadly almost everything you will see in the media has been bought by someone/some corporation for personal or political gain. No one seems to want to stand up against this, so it looks like things just aren't going to change for the better any time soon...

"Well, there may be a reason why they call them 'Mac' trucks! Windows machines will not be trucks." -- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer

Latest Headlines

Most Popular ArticlesAre you ready for this ? HyperDrive Aircraft
September 24, 2016, 9:29 AM
Leaked – Samsung S8 is a Dream and a Dream 2
September 25, 2016, 8:00 AM
Inspiron Laptops & 2-in-1 PCs
September 25, 2016, 9:00 AM
Snapchat’s New Sunglasses are a Spectacle – No Pun Intended
September 24, 2016, 9:02 AM
Walmart may get "Robot Shopping Carts?"
September 17, 2016, 6:01 AM

Copyright 2016 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki