Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Wind report - "It seems global winds are easily up to the job of supplying the world's electricity needs"

It'd be interesting to know what David Mackay's critique of this study is.

Sean

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Wind power could supply world's electricity

* New Scientist issue 2714. 24 June 2009

WIND patterns of the past are providing optimistic news about future energy supplies. It seems global winds are easily up to the job of supplying the world's electricity needs.

Previous projections for wind power simply rely on estimates of average annual wind speeds around the world today. Accurate predictions for future wind patterns are not available, so for more detailed information, Michael McElroy of Harvard University and colleagues turned to atmospheric models normally used by climate scientists and weather forecasters. They used these to recreate wind speeds and patterns from the past 30 years, using data from aircraft, balloons, rocket launches and surface measurements. "We have the best available wind information for the entire world, every 6 hours, with a spatial resolution of 50 by 66 kilometres," says McElroy.

This new approach has the best available wind information for the entire world

The team's model suggests that the top 10 carbon dioxide-emitting countries, except possibly Japan, could generate all of their current and projected electricity needs from onshore wind turbines that are already commercially available.

In the US, for example, this would take a network of wind farms involving just 2 or 3 turbines per square kilometre over 13 per cent of the country (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, http://www.pnas.org/content/106/27/10933).

1 comment:

David MacKay said...

David MacKay here.... Of course what they say is roughly right - It agrees almost exactly with what I say in my book! You said "13% of USA covered with windfarms would give you all their electricity".
Similarly, I said (in Chapter 4) http://www.inference.phy.cam.ac.uk/withouthotair/c4/page_32.shtml
"If you cover 10% of Britain with windfarms you will get all of Britain's electricity, plus a little bit extra."
(To be precise I estimated 20 kWh/d per person from the windfarms; and the elec consumption in the UK is 17 kWh/d per person.)