Harnessing available wind energy a huge challenge, but feasible, say experts

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Harnessing available wind energy a huge challenge, but feasible, say experts


Greentech Lead India: A recent research suggests there is enough wind energy to
meet the power demands of the entire  world, but it would take
massive infrastructure investment which analysts think is not achievable
considering the current scenario.

To analyze the potential of wind energy, scientists used
a computer weather model to show that there is enough to exceed the total
demand by several times, even after accounting for reductions in wind speeds caused
by the turbines.

Analysts of climate data in the Proceedings of the
National Academy of Sciences says 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
in so-called “wind farms”.

To exploit this, it would require 1.5 billion massive
windmills to be installed on and offshore, according to study author Mark
Jacobson. Half of them could be on land, and half on oceans. On land, it’s best
to spread out the wind farms in high-wind areas across the globe, such as the
Gobi Desert, the American Great Plains, or the Sahara Desert.

Currently the total installed wind
capacity worldwide is 250 gigawatts, which is about a
hundredth of what is needed to power half the world’s electricity demands.

Growing at this rate, the world would require four
million five-megawatt turbines to power half of 2030’s energy needs.

Jacobson said this is certainly feasible, but experts
were skeptical.

According to Audun Botterud, an energy researcher for the
US Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory, “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

Botterud cites the challenge associated with managing wind
and storing the energy as the main roadblock in the massive deployment of wind
power infrastructure. According to him, managing wind power at higher scale
presents tremendous challenge.

The uncertain nature of the wind makes the power output
unpredictable and difficult to manage. However, Botterud says if we are able to
develop a storage system that could save the surplus energy on a large scale,
probably we can manage that variability and uncertainty associated with it.
However, storage is still very expensive and limited.

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