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Solution: Wind EnergyEdit

Overview Edit

As the sun heats up the Earth unevenly, winds are formed. The kinetic energy in the wind can be used to run wind turbines, some capable of producing 5 MW of power. The power output is a function of the cube of the wind speed, so such turbines generally require a wind in the range 5.5 m/ (20 km/h), and in practice relatively few land areas have significant prevailing winds. Luckily, offshore or at high altitudes, the winds are much more constant.

There are now many thousands of wind turbines operating in various parts of the world, with utility companies having a total capacity of 59,322 MW. Capacity in this case means maximum possible output which does not count load factor.

New wind farms and offshore wind parks are being planned and built all over the world. This has been the most rapidly-growing means of electricity generation at the turn of the 21st century and provides a complement to large-scale base-load power stations. Most deployed turbines produce electricity about 25% of the time (load factor 25%), but some reach 35%. The load factor is generally higher in winter. It means that a 5 MW turbine can have average output of 1.7 MW in the best case.

Global winds long-term technical potential is believed to be 5 times current global energy consumption or 40 times current electricity demand. This requires 12.7% of all land area, or that land area with Class 3 or greater potential at a height of 80 meters. It assumes that the land is covered with 6 large wind turbines per square kilometer. Offshore resources experience mean wind speeds of ~90% greater than that of land, so offshore resources could contribute substantially more energy. This number could also increase with higher altitude ground based or airborne wind turbines.

Wind strengths vary and thus cannot guarantee continuous power. Some estimates suggest that 1,000 MW of wind generation capacity can be relied on for just 333 MW of continuous power. While this might change as technology evolves, advocates have suggested incorporating wind power with other power sources, or the use of energy storage techniques, with this in mind. It is best used in the context of a system that has significant reserve capacity such as hydro, or reserve load, such as a desalination plant, to mitigate the economic effects of resource variability.

Wind power is renewable and is one of the few energy sources that contributes to greenhouse gas mitigation, because it removes energy directly from the atmosphere without producing net emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane (others greenhouse gas mitigating energy sources include solar thermal and ocean thermal). (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Renewable_energy)


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