Scientists identify wind power as potential primary source of global electricity

Scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the Carnegie Institution Department of Global Ecology in California have presented new evidence which indicates that wind turbines may one day be able to meet the electricity needs of the entire planet.

As a clean and renewable energy source wind power has often been touted as a potential solution to climate change and rising electricity prices, however there has been some argument as to how realistic this option is on a global scale.

But new research, published September 9 in the journal Nature Climate Change, has argued there is more than enough energy available through wind power to meet the current electricity needs of planet Earth.

"There is enough power in Earth’s winds to be a primary source of near-zero-emission electric power as the global economy continues to grow through the twenty-first century," reads the report, which was prepared by Kate Marvel, Ben Kravitz and Ken Caldeira.

The report also notes that by positioning turbines in high altitudes where winds are steadier and faster than on the surface, wind power electricity generation could be increased by upwards of 450 per cent.

"We find wind turbines placed on Earth’s surface could extract kinetic energy at a rate of at least 400 TW, whereas high-altitude wind power could extract more than 1,800 TW," the report reads.

The report goes on to argue that this extreme amount of extraction could potentially have "climatic consequences".

However global electricity demand is currently only at around 18 TW and therefore, according to the report, uniformly distributed wind turbines would be more than capable of generating enough power to meet Earth's electricity needs without substantially affecting the climate.

Posted by Charlie Moore