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Potential wind power is 23 times current US electricity use
Tech Business
Written by Daniel   
Tuesday, 23 June 2009 11:25

   A trio of researchers have calculated the sort of yields we might see if the world took advantage of all the wind power available to it. It's a bit of a thought experiment, but the numbers are still impressive: 40 times the current global electric use.

By John Timmer | Last updated June 23, 2009 6:15 AM CT

When the National Academies of Science recently looked at the potential for renewable energy deployment in the states, its expert panel made some reasonable assumptions, such as limits imposed by manufacturing capacity and the current electric grid. This week, the NAS Proceedings will see the publication of a paper that considers what would happen if we dropped reasonableness from the analysis and calculated what we might achieve if we pushed wind power to its maximal capacity.  The paper is an odd mix of these unreasonable assumptions and conservative estimates, and is probably best viewed as a sort of thought experiment. Still, the numbers that come out of the analysis are quite impressive: maxing out deployment of current-generation technology could produce five times the total energy used in the world today, and 40 times the electricity.

To a certain extent, this shouldn't be a complete shock. The amount of energy deposited on earth by the sun every year dwarfs any conceivable estimate of future energy use, and estimates are that as much as one percent of that winds up being converted to wind. The authors calculate that the fraction of wind energy that winds up on land is over 1014 watts, which is a lot to work with. The key question is how much of that to harvest. [ARS Technica....[Comments...]

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