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!
Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake
12.12.2017 | Duke University
Two holograms in one surface
12.12.2017 | California Institute of Technology
MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.
Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...
Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...
Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.
To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...
The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.
Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...
With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong
Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
07.12.2017 | Event News
14.12.2017 | Health and Medicine
14.12.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
14.12.2017 | Life Sciences