Could the Us Supply Most Power Needs Using Wind Generators Alone?

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Could the US supply most power needs using wind generators alone?

How viable is wind power? The answer is. not very. First there is a limit to how much energy you can extract from a moving fluid, (the Betz limit) and modern wind turbines are already close to it. When calculated, the sheer number of units needed to make a significant impact to global energy supplies is staggering. This is because, second, their effectiveness (the load factor, to use the engineering term) is determined by the wind that is available, and that varies over time, it’s a fluctuating stream of low–density energy. Mankind stopped using it for mission-critical transport and mechanical power long ago, for sound reasons. It’s just not very good. Thus, third, either very efficient storage (which is still not available after some three decades of promises) is needed, or some form of spinning reserve has to be around to pick up the slack, and provide voltage and frequency discipline, all of which is required for a connection to the grid. The only reliable supply of this reserve is the very types of power plants wind is supposed to replace. Factor in the amount of GHG that the steel, aluminum, and concrete needed to build the wind power installations would release and net environmental gain is negative. The bottom line is that is utterly futile, on a priori grounds, believe that wind power can make any significant contribution to either energy production or emissions reductions -the numbers are simply against such a notion.

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That may change because the European Commission is currently funding research which may bring the Beta limit closer and at the same time bring the technology closer to practical realization. Here is a recent press release from France: Le Monde, 28 de Ferraro de 2011 From the EU Research website: Europe supports wind power R&D The project, called “Euro wind: A new paradigm of wind power energy research”, was awarded a €1.3 million grant in May 2009 Research is carried out in France by the CNRS and other institutions The technology developed can be applied to other wind energy technologies The CNRS, for instance, is undertaking various experiments on the power conversion of wind turbines and its performance in practice. The project, which was awarded a €1.3 million grant in May 2009, aims to extend the concept further and explore the use of carbon dioxide as a fuel and thereby solve the problem of the 'Beta.