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 Robot on demand: Mobile machining of aircraft components with high precision
06.12.2016 | Fraunhofer IFAM

nachricht IHP presents the fastest silicon-based transistor in the world
05.12.2016 | IHP - Leibniz-Institut für innovative Mikroelektronik

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: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Robot on demand: Mobile machining of aircraft components with high precision

06.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

A new dead zone in the Indian Ocean could impact future marine nutrient balance

06.12.2016 | Earth Sciences

Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

06.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>