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Global Wind Map
Jamais Cascio, 20 May 05

We've linked to wind power maps before -- maps of US wind potential, maps of US actual production, and the "SWERA" project looking at solar and wind potential in the developing world. But we haven't yet seen a map of global wind power potential. But we will soon.

Stanford University's Cristina Archer and Mark Jacobson have just published an article for the Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres mapping global wind potential. Over 8,000 wind speed measurements around the world were analyzed; of those, almost 13 percent of the stations examined receive sufficient annual average wind strong enough for power generation. North America has the greatest concentration of potential wind power sources, followed by the southern tip of South America and the Australian island of Tasmania. But how much power could be produced?

The authors found that the locations with sustainable Class 3 winds could produce approximately 72 terawatts and that capturing even a fraction of that energy could provide the 1.6-1.8 terawatts that made up the world's electricity usage in the year 2000. A terawatt is 1 trillion watts, a quantity of energy that would otherwise require more than 500 nuclear reactors or thousands of coal-burning plants.

The paper is behind a subscription barrier, but I've submitted a request for a copy for review.

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I hope the map includes strong winds. I've heard that certain types of windmills can make the most of those winds.

Posted by: Lucas Gonzalez on 23 May 05



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