New global wind map may lead to cheaper power

by Dave

Was talking about wind energy potential in the Patagonia, yesterday. Dug around and found this dated article from 2005 and related map.

Stanford News Sevice

Cristina Archer, a former postdoctoral fellow, and Mark Z. Jacobson, an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, suggest that wind captured at specific locations, if even partially harnessed, can generate more than enough power to satisfy the world’s energy demands. Their report appears in the May Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres, a publication of the American Geophysical Union.

“The main implication of this study is that wind, for low-cost wind energy, is more widely available than was previously recognized,” said Archer, now a researcher at the Bay Area Air Quality Management District.

The researchers collected wind-speed measurements from approximately 7,500 surface stations and 500 balloon-launch stations to determine global wind speeds at 80 meters (300 feet) above the ground surface, which is the hub height of modern wind turbines. Using a new interpolation technique to estimate the wind speed at hub height, the authors reported that nearly 13 percent of the stations had average annual wind speeds strong enough for power generation.

Wind speeds of 6.9 meters per second (15 miles per hour) at hub height, referred to as wind power Class 3, were found in every region of the world. Some of the strongest winds were observed in Northern Europe, along the North Sea, while the southern tip of South America and the Australian island of Tasmania also featured sustained strong winds. North America had the greatest wind-power potential, however, with the most consistent winds found in the Great Lakes region and from ocean breezes along coasts. Overall, the researchers calculated hub-height winds traveled over the ocean at approximately 8.6 meters per second and at nearly 4.5 meters per second over land (20 and 10 miles per hour, respectively).

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