Researchers at Stanford University's School of Engineering and the University of Delaware claim there's enough wind over land and at sea combined to produce at least half the world's power demand by 2030.
Thanks for that input, William. Although 100-meter tall turbines were used in the initial simulation, the researchers then recommend turbines 100 feet tall, as the article states. Wind turbines 200-300 feet tall are fairly common right now on some of the larger wind farms.
Wind turbines don't have to capture all of the wind energy, but they do need to grab enough to offer an adequatereturn on investments. No questions about that. But that is no small task, and to keep things running 250 feet up is quite an exoensive task, as well, Using the turbine to drive an air compressor to supply the generator turbine drives would be an interesting way to do it, it would get rid of a whole lot of wires, as well. Of course a lot of energy would be lost as the compressed air cooled, but it is a way to have a very smooth drive. The best part is that it would allow energy storage easily, just by providing tanks to hold the air, But nobody seems to consider it presently.
As a footnote to this article, a separate, recent study by the principle researcher, Jacobson, and different colleagues shows that offshore US East Coast winds alone could power that area's entire energy needs for three of the four seasons each year: http://news.stanford.edu/news/2012/september/offshore-wind-energy-091412.html That study can be accessed here: http://www.stanford.edu/group/efmh/jacobson/Articles/I/Offshore/12DvorakEastCoastWindEn.pdf An earlier study by Jacobson et al examining California's offshore wind potential is here: http://www.stanford.edu/group/efmh/jacobson/Articles/I/Offshore/DvorakRenewEn2010.pdf
Dave, thanks for that source. Your cost estimate is therefore on the high end. Regarding land space, the researchers say, as does my article, that 7.5 TW could be produced on about 0.05% of the planet's land surface. Note that a) that's 150% of what they estimate is needed and b) the word is "could" not "must" be located on the given area. Their point is how relatively little area it is. To your point, that much land is probably needed because a) turbines are usually grouped together in farms and those farms can't be contiguous, and b) as you note, the land can also serve dual purposes.
@Ann: According to this wind industry website, commercial wind turbines cost between $1.2 million and $2.6 million per megawatt of nameplate capacity. So I figure a 5 MW wind turbine should cost around $10 million.
I agree with Jerry that it's not obvious why 2 million wind turbines (i.e. the half of the 4 million that would be on-shore) should require 185 million acres of land. On the other hand, the press release notes (as Jerry does) that "virtually none of this area would be used solely for wind, but could serve dual purposes such as open space, farmland, ranchland or wildlife preserve."
Dave, I agree with you and Warren that the economics and financing of wind turbines, including making a viable business model, is a whole different set of problems. BTW, where did you get the $10 million figure?
Warren, part of the reason wind didn't take off as expected was mentioned in my article: some previous studies had concluded that the wind farm effects could include environmental problems, some caused by weather changes, in addition to reductions in wind energy caused by turbines "stealing" it from their neighbors
No WT is 100% eff of the wind through it because as you say, no wind would be behind it would stop the wind in front, through it. At most about 59% is the most of the winds power you can extract but even that is never even close to what you can get in real life.
The best get about 45% for large 3blade units. But as they say the wind is free. They also say it costs a lot to catch it as we say in sailing ;^P But after payback which is about 2-4 yrs, the energy is almost free for another 50 yrs.
As for your number, 1/ 10,000,000,000,000,000% of the atmosphere's wind power, yes mine is 10,000x's smaller already so it's already less inpact than yours ;^P
As for space most future WT's will be small home, building size taking up no real space more that a couple sq' the point is moot. Same with the Anti solar trolls who say you need to cover whole states to make them work.
A home/building on an 100x100' lot recieves 100k kw/hr solar energy for 5hrs averaged power/day averaged over a yr. Wind can easily be 20kw's 10hrs/day giving 200kwhrs/day.
YMMV but as you can see their is plenty of RE to go around. There is no shortage of energy, just the equipment to catch it. As prices for energy, especially fossil fuels goes up, this energy will be exploited.
Warren, Right wing repubs are not conservatives but regressives fighting change, freedom, rights of everyone who doesn't think like them that has to happen vs Dems are mostly progressives embracing change as an exciting future to have with more knowledge, rights to work with.
Our forefathers like Washington , Jefferson were mostly progressives, tories were the conservatives/regressives trying to control everyone and stop progress. Think about it. Which should you be? The past or future?
Ron Paul is for dog eat dog where the most powerful, ruthless win but make the pie so much smaller because of domination by those who own the marbles they rule little. Of the 3 Paul would end up the facist though Neo-cons a close second. The right has produced little progress but hinders it and freedom instead. Notice repubs for freedom as long as you do it, think their way. I'll stay progressive like George Washington, Franklin.
Fact is no ism is good in itself but best to pick the best parts of each, social to care for those not able and let young talent have the opportunity to excel, progressive to lead to a better future, freedom for all and capitalism reasonably checked to release the creativity, free markets that it brings but without the bubble busts it also brings. Just look at 2008 for why capitalism doesn't work. Without decent regulations it destroys everything in it's path and nearly caused a worldwide depression. If Romney wins they'll cause one because it's the only outcome their policies will bring.
Dave, 4 million turbines only need at most 4 million acres or 6400sq miles. Saying otherwise is just not true. Just because they need spacing doesn't mean they use that space inbetween.
Nor is $40T that much for that much power as it would cost as much to build other sources.
But neither will ever be done so rather a moot point.
You are correct that it's most low NG costs that is killing coal as it's not only cheaper/btu but far cheaper to transport or burn. Plus NG plants are about 60% eff now vs only 40% eff for coal. So NG can be 2x's the BTU cost of coal and still be cheaper/kwhr.
But utilities also see the writing on the wall that they'll have to pay the full cost of coal including it's socialized/taxpayers cost of the damage it does. So while NG price is responcable for the present drop in coal from 60% of generation 5 yrs ago to 32% in july it's the pollution costs that will keep it dropping.
Warren, I do know what facism is , it's a cabal between right wing gov and business taking over, controlling the government powers. And it's Repubs, big business that is doing it, not democrats. Trying to call Dems and repubs the same strains credibility, yours.
Just because Dems try to force business to stop hurting, killing people, stealing their money, etc by regulations doesn't make them facist, in fact the opposite.
I agree that parties have way too much power and the best way to curb it is open primaries so they can't control which canidates we have to vote for. If we had that then only moderate ones would win instead of the far right, l;eft ones though hard to call most dems in office far left as most are moderates.
GohperT wind and solar Feed in rates are justified as they don't have the other massive socialized costs coal especially has. Also solar happens when needed most so is actually 2-3x's more valuable that steady power like nuke, coal. So really it should get even higher FI rates. As should wind on the east coast which also happens at peak Time of Day rates.
I should admit here that wind only has a 30-40% cap output average to be honest which increases it'sinstalled cost that much but even with that higher cost it's lower running costs make it worthwhile.
That said anyone who wants 1,000 2kw home, building sizes I can make them for $750/kw wholesale with 100% profit. Remember we perfected this size WT's in the 30's!!! Many are still running 80 yrs later if maintained.
Admiral Byrd's Artic base camp one is still being used after replacing the bearings, blades and brushes and is now saving a lot of diesel costing $10/gal to ship in that is that old. I'm just doing a similar one with the improved materials I expect to last as long.