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Global Potential for Wind-Generated Electricity

Michael B. McElroy
Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences
Harvard University

Friday, Oct. 16, 2009
Videocast from Boulder
1:00 p.m., Green Auditorium

 windmills
From Science Vol 325, No. 5946. Sep. 11, 09 cover.
Reprinted with permission from AAAS.

 

The potential of wind power as a global source of electricity is assessed by assimilating wind data from a variety of metrological sources. The analysis indicates that a network of land-based 2.5-megawatt (MW) turbines, restricted to non-forested, ice-free, non-urban areas and operating at as little as 20% of their rated capacity, could supply >40 times current worldwide consumption of electricity and >5 times total global use of energy in all forms. Resources in the contiguous United States, specifically in the central plain states, could accommodate as much as 16 times the total current demand for electricity in the U.S.

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