Study: Wind could power the world

2012-09-11 10:33
There's enough wind to power the world many times over, but it would take a massive infrastructure investment to harness it, a study has suggested. (Peter Dejong, AP)

There's enough wind to power the world many times over, but it would take a massive infrastructure investment to harness it, a study has suggested. (Peter Dejong, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Washington - There's enough wind to power the world many times over, according to a study, but it would take a massive infrastructure investment to harness it that analysts say is not realistic.

As the world seeks to lessen its reliance on fossil fuels like coal and natural gas, renewable energy sources like wind and solar power are being developed as alternatives.

Contrary to some other recent studies, analysis of climate data in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences indicates wind turbines could harness hundreds of terawatts of electricity, far more than is needed to power the globe, even when accounting for the interplay between the groupings of turbines in so-called "wind farms".

To reach that maximum potential, according to study author Mark Jacobson, it would require 1.5 billion massive windmills to be installed on and offshore.

That's far more than you would need to meet the world's actual energy demands, the Stanford University engineer qualified, but you would still need many millions more turbines than currently exist.

Sceptical experts


Even with substantial recent investments in wind power, "the total installed wind capacity worldwide is around 250 gigawatts," or about a hundredth of what is needed to power half the world for electricity, cooling, and everything else.

Jacobson envisions a very different future.

He estimated it would take four million five-megawatt turbines - bigger than most currently in use - to power half of 2030's energy needs.

"The world today produces 70 - 80 million cars every year. We only need four million turbines once every 30 years," Jacobson reasoned, arguing it was certainly feasible.

But experts were sceptical.

"If that was the main objective of the world to do this, you could probably do it. But it's a question of how much do you spend on renewables compared to other priorities in society," said Audun Botterud, an energy researcher for the US Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory.

In addition to the economic investment, Botterud said the challenges of changing winds should not be underestimated.

"If you have a relatively modest amount of wind power, it's relatively easy to manage that variability and uncertainty, but as you scale it up, it becomes much more challenging," Botterud said.

"Ideally, if you have some kind of storage device that can store electricity on a large scale, you could use that to store electricity when you have a surplus," to use when the winds die down.

But "storage is still very expensive and it is kind of limited, how much storage you can build with current technologies."

"On top of that you, have the cost of building out transmission lines" from windy areas to where the power is needed.

University of Colorado environmental policy expert Roger Pielke agreed, saying: "Speculative science can be enlightening, but it remains far from the practical world of energy systems."
Read more on:    renewable energy
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
26 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/Sport
 

Goalkeeper saves five penalties with his FACE!

Nothing, and we mean nothing, will keep goalkeeper Scott Stirling from stopping the ball!

 
 

Men24.com

Hottie of the day: Jesselyn
This invention makes farts smell like chocolate!
11 things men don’t know about their clothes
Hilarious mortal kombat elevator prank!

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Save up to 60% on toys!

Don’t miss out on this hot offer, save up to 60% on toys. While stocks last. Shop now!

Festive gifts!

Check out our awesome range of festive gifts to make everyone’s wishes come true. Shop now!

Seen something you like in our catalogue?

Find the perfect gift and save up to R5000 – As seen on the catalogue. Hurry and shop now!

Save up to R2200 on electronics! – As seen in the catalogue

Wishing for tech gadgets this festive? Save up to R2100 on hot tech products at kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 35% off books

Save up to 35% on the latest page-turners. While stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

The Moon has moved into your sign, emphasizing the need to connect things to work together. There is a tendency to focus too far...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.