Currently wind turbines contribute four percent of the world’s energy needs. To the right is a wind map of the continental United States. There is certainly no shortage of wind here or anywhere else in the world.
In the pink area along the southern Gulf Coast is a vulnerable area that is subject to high hurricane force winds at certain times of the year, along with perfectly adequate winds for the rest of the season to sustain wind power generation.
Scientists have recently investigated and concluded that these high seasonal winds could be mitigated with large wind farms. Wind is not unaffected by wind farms. In fact we are directly taking energy out of the winds which slows them down as we use that energy to create electricity.
For example, a German wind farm at a time of low output (blue in Figure 3) has very little effect on the wind. When the wind is strong (shown in red) the output is quite high. But behind each wind generator is a long trail of very slow-moving air that has been robbed of its energy.
They must make a particular effort to design the wind farm so that the relatively slow air of one doesn’t rob another generator of its ability to generate maximum power. The impact can be enormous. Improperly installed, it can result in one turbine being completely stalled and generating no power at all. A change of even 1% output can amount to millions of dollars to a wind farm.
Scientists affirm that by appropriate placement of the turbines there could be a substantial attenuation of the wind energy coming in off the ocean and that significant control over the amount of damage wrought by nature.
It would require placement offshore and transmission of the power over longer distances than usual, but certainly nothing that wouldn’t be offset by both the increased generation capacity and the damage mitigation of ocean storms. Given a sufficiently large field of turbines, a hurricane might not even form, but be reduced to the mere inconvenience of a severe storm.
Wildlife and Power
We have to be aware of migratory paths for birds, but these devices offer far less threat to animals than windows in our buildings. Scientists are now experimenting with paint that is easily visible to bats to protect them as well.
If we could slowly get away from other forms of energy generation, we could, for example, easily preserve fourteen million liters of water per year just in the United States alone that is used for maintenance, steam turbines, cooling and so on. Imagine how much we could save in the entire world. And all the while we would be using more and more renewable energy, reducing our dependence on oil which is far more useful in chemical processes to enhance our lives in other ways. And with the new graphene batteries being developed that charge amazingly quickly, our electric cars could recharge in about ten minutes as opposed to several hours. It would not be that much different than the time consumed filling our cars with gasoline.
The world is ready to change. People are quite accepting of this new technology. We have to remember to study the impact of these installations and think about not only how they’re going to benefit us, but their impact on where we decide to place them. This is the wave of the future and I’m ready to embrace it!