Wind Turbine Model demonstrates the potential for ample amounts of Clean Energy

Clouds in the sky - BSN

(Best Syndication News) - Researchers from the Stanford University School of Engineering and the University of Delaware developed a wind model to determine if there is enough wind to power the world’s electricity needs in 2030.

The study results were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) by Mark Z. Jacobson, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford and Cristina Archer, an associate professor of geography and physical ocean science and engineering at the University of Delaware.

The study involved a three-dimensional atmosphere-ocean-land computer model known as GATOR-GCMOM. Jacobson and Archer adapted this computer model to compute the maximum wind power potential worldwide. In this calculation they took into account the wind reduction caused by the turbines. The turbine model assumed that they could be installed at any location without any limitations set.

Two earlier studies concluded that wind turbines would not be able to accomplish the energy needs because the wind energy declines when other turbines are present. Additionally, these studies suggest that wind turbines may cause undesirable results on the climate.

In the new study, they found that there was a point of saturation. There will be a point where more turbines installed will not generate more electricity. A nearby turbine will reduce the amount of potential energy that the other turbines can generate. However, these scientists estimate that wind turbines could generate hundreds of terawatts of power, which is way more than all humans would need in 2030. They also did a more in-depth investigation into how the weather and wind speed effects an individual turbine.

"Modeling the climate consequences of wind turbines is complex science," said Jacobson. "This software allows that level of detail for the first time."

They are optimistic about the ability of wind turbines to provide enough energy for the entire planet even with an increased population. At the point of saturation, they estimate that over 250 terawatts of power could be generated from 100-meter tall wind-turbines. The turbines would be spread throughout the planet, including over land and oceans. Even if plans are scaled back and turbines are only placed along the coastal regions (excluding Antarctica), there would be the potential to generate 80 terawatts of electricity, which they say is around seven times what will be needed. The scientists also suggest that if wind turbines could reach up to six miles in the sky and catch the jet stream they could generate an additional 380 terawatts.

"We're not saying, 'Put turbines everywhere,' but we have shown that there is no fundamental barrier to obtaining half or even several times the world's all-purpose power from wind by 2030. The potential is there, if we can build enough turbines," said Jacobson.

A more realistic idea proposed by Archer and Jacobson is to build four million 100-meter high wind turbines, each rated at five-megawatts, with half of them being installed over water and the other half on land. They suggest that the wind turbine farms should be spread out rather than clumped all together in one location. This would allow the turbines to be more efficient. They estimate that 7.5 terawatts of power could be generated and about half of the planet could use this renewable energy. They say all of these turbines would be without a negative impact on the climate.

"We have a long way to go. Today, we have installed a little over one percent of the wind power needed," said Jacobson.

By: Julie Marcus
Science and Technology Writer

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