That is the conclusion of a Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory climate scientist and collaborators who studied the geophysical limits to global wind power in a paper appearing in the Sept. 9 edition of the journal, Nature Climate Change.
"The future of wind energy is likely to be determined by economic, political and technical constraints rather than geophysical limits," said Kate Marvel, lead author of the paper and a scientist in the Laboratory's Program for Climate Model Diagnosis and Intercomparison.
Airborne turbines that convert steadier and faster high-altitude winds into energy could generate even more power than ground- and ocean-based units. The study examined the limits of the amount of power that could be harvested from winds, as well as the effects high-altitude wind power could have on the climate as a whole.
Turbines create drag, or resistance, which removes momentum from the winds and tends to slow them. As the number of wind turbines increases, the amount of energy that is generated increases. But at some point, the winds would be slowed so much that adding more turbines will not generate more electricity. This study focused on finding the point at which energy generation is highest.
Using a climate model, Marvel, along with Ben Kravitz and Ken Caldeira of the Carnegie Institution Department of Global Ecology, estimated the amount of power than can be produced from both near-surface and high-altitude winds.
The group found that wind turbines placed on the earth's surface could extract kinetic energy at a rate of at least 400 terawatts, while high-altitude wind power could extract more than 1800 terawatts. Current total global power demand is about 18 terawatts.
At maximum levels of power generation, there would be substantial climate effects from wind harvesting. But the study found that the climate effects of extracting wind energy at the level of current global demand would be small, as long as the turbines were spread out and not clustered in just a few regions. At the level of global energy demand, wind turbines might affect surface temperatures by about 0.2 degrees Fahrenheit and affect precipitation by about 1 percent. Overall, the environmental impacts would not be substantial.
"Power generation is blowing in the wind," LLNL news release, Jan. 17, 2012.
"Lawrence Livermore ramps up wind energy research," LLNL news release, Dec. 14, 2011
"In the wake of the wind," LLNL news release, April 26, 2011
"Extracting more power from wind," Science & Technology Review, April/May 2010
Anne Stark | EurekAlert!
'Super yeast' has the power to improve economics of biofuels
18.10.2016 | University of Wisconsin-Madison
Engineers reveal fabrication process for revolutionary transparent sensors
14.10.2016 | University of Wisconsin-Madison
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...
In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...
By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.
"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...
COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.
In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...
'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.
Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine
21.10.2016 | Information Technology
21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences