Friday, July 17, 2009

New Study Suggests that Potential For Wind Power May Be Much Higher Than Expected

The New York Times Green, Inc. Blog reports on a new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States, which indicates that much more wind power may be available than previously estimated.

Researchers at Harvard University reviewed meteorological wind speed data to evaluate the potential for wind energy production around the world and in the U.S.

In summary:
The analysis indicates that a network of land-based 2.5-megawatt (MW) turbines restricted to nonforested, ice-free, nonurban areas operating at as little as 20% of their rated capacity could supply >40 times current worldwide consumption of electricity, >5 times total global use of energy in all forms.

Resources in the contiguous United States, specifically in the central plain states, could accommodate as much as 16 times total current demand for electricity in the United States.
Prior estimates had pegged potential world-wide wind power production at just 7 times world electricity demand; the U.S. Department of Energy estimated in 2008 that wind power could only provide 1/5 of total U.S. electricity demand by 2030. The Harvard study suggests that the potential for wind power production could actually be much higher.

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