Wind power, long considered to be as fickle as wind itself, can be groomed to become a steady, dependable source of electricity and delivered at a lower cost than at present, according to scientists at Stanford University.
The key is connecting wind farms throughout a given geographic area with transmission lines, thus combining the electric outputs of the farms into one powerful energy source. The findings are published in the November issue of the American Meteorological Societys Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology.
Wind is the worlds fastest growing electric energy source, according to the studys authors, Cristina Archer and Mark Jacobson. However, because wind is intermittent, it is not used to supply baseload electric power today. Baseload power is the amount of steady and reliable electric power that is constantly being produced, typically by power plants, regardless of the electricity demand. But interconnecting wind farms with a transmission grid reduces the power swings caused by wind variability and makes a significant portion of it just as consistent a power source as a coal power plant.
This study implies that, if interconnected wind is used on a large scale, a third or more of its energy can be used for reliable electric power, and the remaining intermittent portion can be used for transportation, allowing wind to solve energy, climate and air pollution problems simultaneously, said Archer, the studys lead author and a consulting assistant professor in Stanfords Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and research associate in the Department of Global Ecology of the Carnegie Institution.
Its a bit like having a bunch of hamsters generating your power, each in a separate cage with a treadmill. At any given time, some hamsters will be sleeping or eating and some will be running on their treadmill. If you have only one hamster, the treadmill is either turning or it isnt, so the powers eit
|Contact: Stephanie Kenitzer|
American Meteorological Society