For those of you concerned that the failure of industrial wind to perform as a reliable, on demand energy source, take heart! If we simply turn over every inch of available land to the industrial wind LLCs we won’t need nuclear, coal, natural gas, waves, geothermal, biomass or even static from balloons. Wind will do it all! Sorta …
And yes, I know there are only 300 million people in the US, not 3.6 billion. I only said that to get you here. But think of this … if, as pointed out in the two following articles quoting from the NREL estimates, wind could produce 10 to 12 times as much as is sourced from all available means today; and you reduce the massive capacity of wind they estimate down to say, what the Texas grid actually expects to see from IW (no more than 9%); we won’t need nearly as many fossil or nuclear plants as today. Of course, we’ll have to figure out the little things like how to get the power from the south to the north in the winter time, since the darned things seem to freeze up and produce 0%.
The wind giveth and the wind taketh away!
Anyway, according to Ms. Sandy Bauers at the Green Space blog at Philly.com, “The U.S. Department of Energy has just released new estimates of the nation’s wind energy potential. It’s three times what the agency had estimated before,” adding “Now, the department says the nation — not counting Hawaii and Alaska — could produce 37 million gigawatt hours of wind power annually. That nearly ten times the total power generated in the U.S. in 2009, which was four million gigawatt hours.” Ms. Bauers did point a few issues to consider: These studies of “wind potential” often are based on what you could generate if you put wind turbines on every realistic spot available, which is unlikely. There’s also still the question of reliability. Since the power grid has no storage, power has to be produced when it is needed, and the wind doesn’t always blow. And, yes, the question of how to get the power from where the wind is blowing to where it is needed.
Over at ECOGEEK.org, Megan Treachy posted that “The new number is over 12 times the amount of energy we consume each year. Americans consume 3 million GWh of electricity each year and in 2008 only 52,000 GWh came from wind.” Ms. Treachy points out that “The last study of wind power potential, completed in 1993, came up with an energy potential of about 10.8 million GWh. According to NREL, the reason for the dramatic jump is better wind technology (taller and more powerful turbines) and better data used in the assessment. In case you’re wondering, environmentally-protected areas were not included as potential sites.” (Gee: 52,000 divided by 3,000,000 is less that 2% – did I do that right???)
The estimates were produced by NREL, (National Renewable Energy Laboratory) and AWS Truewind LLC, both with absolutely no interest in the outcome of the report.
Of course, getting to this will take a while. “In January, NREL reported that a shift to 20 percent or more of the Eastern Interconnection’s electrical load to wind energy is possible by 2024.” So if in 14 years we get to 20%, bumping it up to the NREL estimate will take, uh … around … well, longer!