Wind energy on the planet is sufficient to provide the energy requirements of all mankind. At higher altitudes the wind faster and more constant, which provides more energy than terrestrial or marine atmospheric turbine. In a new study, Ken Caldeira of the Carnegie Institute of Science, calculated the total amount of energy that can be obtained with the help of the wind, and then what impact wind turbines at high altitude will have on the climate. This work was published on September 9 in the journal Nature Climate Change.
The team calculated the amount of energy that can be obtained with surface and atmospheric winds. Surface winds were defined as those that can get the turbo prop up the towers on the ground or on the water. Atmospheric - are, respectively the ones that you can get only by combining technologies of turbines and kites. This study evaluated solely geophysical constraints, without taking into account technical and economic factors.
Turbines create resistance, which reduces the amount of winds and slows them. As the number of wind turbines, the amount withdrawn energy will increase. At some point, the winds will slow down so that the addition of turbines does not affect the number of generated electricity. This study was conducted to calculate the maximum limit of the collected energy.
With the help of models created by them, the team calculated that the surface winds can provide 400 terawatts of energy, and atmospheric - more than 1,800 TWh.
Modern civilization consumes about 18 terawatts of energy. Thus, only the surface winds may provide up to 20 times more energy than required world and turbine kites can potentially collect energy 100 times more current needs.
When reaching the maximum level gathering of wind energy, the Earth will survive the significant climate impacts. But, as this study demonstrates, the collection of wind energy in an amount not to exceed the current needs of the world, would have little effect on the climate if the turbines are evenly distributed, and not skuchkovany in several regions. Collect the energy in the amount of current global needs, can change the surface temperature by 0.1 degrees Celsius and rainfall change by 1%. In general, the influence on the environment is negligible.
"This study showed that the limiting factors in the growth of wind energy are economic, technological and political, rather than geophysical" - said Caldeira.