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 Did you know that the wrapping of Easter eggs benefits from specialty light sources?
13.04.2017 | Heraeus Noblelight GmbH

nachricht To e-, or not to e-, the question for the exotic 'Si-III' phase of silicon
05.04.2017 | Carnegie Institution for Science

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: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Fighting drug resistant tuberculosis – InfectoGnostics meets MYCO-NET² partners in Peru

28.04.2017 | Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Wireless power can drive tiny electronic devices in the GI tract

28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering

Ice cave in Transylvania yields window into region's past

28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis

28.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>