Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Researchers Calculate Maximum Energy Potential From Wind

13.09.2012
Wind turbines could power half the world’s future energy demands with minimal environmental impact, according to new research published by University of Delaware and Stanford University scientists in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The researchers arrived at the determination by calculating the maximum theoretical potential of wind power worldwide, taking into account the effects that numerous wind turbines would have on surface temperatures, water vapor, atmospheric circulations and other climatic considerations.

“Wind power is very safe from the climate point of view,” said Cristina Archer, associate professor of geography and physical ocean science and engineering at UD.

Archer and Stanford’s Mark Jacobson identified the maximum wind power potential by finding the saturation point where adding more turbines would fail to increase energy output. As the number of wind turbines increases over large regions, the amount of power generated at first increases proportionately – but then reaches a point of diminishing returns and eventually flattens out.

This “saturation wind power potential” is reached when too many turbines leave too little wind left behind to extract, interfering with the climate and leveling off the total energy output.

“They reduce the amount of energy available for others,” Archer said. “And that’s the point that was very important for us to find.”

The scientists concluded that the saturation wind power potential is greater than 250 terawatts (1 terawatt = 1012 W) globally and 80 TW over land and coastal ocean areas at 100 meters in the air, the height of most modern wind turbines. This potential far exceeds the global energy demands, Archer said.

“The result of this study suggests that there is no fundamental barrier to obtaining many times the world power demand for all purposes in a clean-energy economy from wind,” Jacobson said.

The saturation wind power potential, however, is a theoretical calculation and the researchers propose a “fixed wind power potential” for more practical applications. The fixed wind power potential is the maximum power that can be extracted by a given number of wind turbines as they are spread apart over increasingly larger areas.

Archer and Jacobson found that installing 4 million turbines could yield up to 7.5 TW, more than enough to power half the world’s power demand in 2030. They also showed that spreading wind farms out worldwide in windy locations would increase efficiency, as well as minimize costs and reduce overall impacts on the environment when compared to packing the same 4 million turbines in a few spots.

The work counteracts previous claims that the wind resource is small with damaging climate impacts. Last year, German researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry reported there to be a very low potential for wind with harmful effects similar in magnitude to doubling atmospheric carbon dioxide.

Puzzled by their conclusions, Archer and Jacobson set out to determine the resource at a global scale using a physical model to thoroughly address the many factors at play. They used a 3D atmosphere-ocean-land coupled model (GATOR-GCMOM) that extracts energy where the turbines would actually be located 100 m off the ground, instead of at the surface like the German study. Their high-resolution model addresses numerous factors, such as chemistry and water vapor content.

“The model is very complex and sophisticated,” Archer said. “It’s very, very reliable.”

The findings confirm that wind power is a viable component of a clean-energy economy. While wind power does alter the atmosphere when extracted at massive scales – decreasing wind speed at hub height and to a lesser extent at the surface, reducing the amount of water vapor and cooling the planet – the impacts are negligible at more practical scales of extraction, such as 7.5 TW.

At any scale, wind extraction impacts are less than damage from heat-generating combustion and nuclear reaction from fossil and fissile fuels. Wind turbines generate no significant heat, pollutants, soot or ozone.

“Everything comes at a price, but the price of wind power comes at a low cost in terms of climate impacts,” Archer said.

The research was funded by the National Science Foundation, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and NASA high-end computing.

Andrea Boyle Tippett | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.udel.edu

More articles from Power and Electrical Engineering:

nachricht How protons move through a fuel cell
22.06.2017 | Empa - Eidgenössische Materialprüfungs- und Forschungsanstalt

nachricht Fraunhofer IZFP acquires lucrative EU project for increasing nuclear power plant safety
21.06.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Zerstörungsfreie Prüfverfahren IZFP

All articles from Power and Electrical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum thermometer or optical refrigerator?

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Equipping form with function

23.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>