In the coming decades, wind power has the potential to meet the world electricity needs. A professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford University, Mark Z. Jacobson conducted a study which calculated the saturation potential of wind turbines (the point at which adding more wind turbines are counter-productive, decreasing the amount of energy extracted for every turbine). The study found that this point was very high, and would account for 10 times the world’s energy consumption. In light of this finding the research team narrowed their focus to how many wind turbines it would take to meet half of the worlds energy needs in 2030. The study found:
- Half of the world’s energy consumption would be 5.75 terawatts (TW)
- This could be met with 4 million 100-meter turbines (five megawatt each)
- Met with a combination of onshore, and offshore turbines
The study disclaims that the majority of the turbines would be offshore, which would be very costly. They would have to operate according to wind power at certain times of the day, which means that in the ocean, where wind speed peaks in the afternoon, so does the energy demand around the world (http://www.ecomagination.com/powering-half-the-world-with-wind-by-2030).
Although this study shows a potentially promising future of clean energy, it does not take into account economic or societal considerations. While this paints a bright future for the world, there is a lack of technology and electrical grids in place to achieve this goal, and in, say, Germany’s case, lack of technology. When using wind power, the wind is never constant. Other sources of energy are needed to supply the cities with power during these gaps. Their is also a problem when the wind turbines generates too much power and does not use all of it, as there is not yet a way of storing this energy; there is no system in effect to store this energy and distribute it at a later time (http://www.flyingpenguin.com/?p=11207). One solution being propositioned is to store this energy in batteries.
This video sheds insight into utopias of abundance or technological uptopias. By harnessing wind and solar power, and having these energy sources contribute to our power grids, we can start to reduce emissions globally. This video uses technical rationality and enables its viewers to contract a clear picture of this new technology and how it can contribute to the world’s energy needs in the future.