It’s no secret that power in the wind between 500 and 12,000-m up is probably stronger and steadier than at ground level. But by how much? To find out, a study called Global Assessment of High-Altitude Wind Power examined 28 years of wind data from the National Centers for Environmental Prediction and the De
partment of Energy to study its geographical distributions and persistency. The study also looked at intermittency issues and what might happen if a lot of energy were extracted from high-altitude winds.
The study generated global maps for wind-power density at several 1000-m levels and vertical wind distributions at the world’s five largest cities. Somewhat good news: It found the highest wind-power densities near 10,000 m (6.2 miles up) near population centers over Japan and eastern China, the east coast of the U.S., southern Australia, and north-eastern Africa, with median values greater than 10 kW/m2, power densities almost unthinkable near the ground.
Of course, there is a problem: the wind is 10,000-m up. What’s more, meandering jet streams vary locally and seasonally, so a high-altitude wind power resource is less steady than needed for baseload power without large amounts of storage or continental-scale transmission grids.
Study authors say climate-model simulations for different scenarios show little effect on climate when deployed at levels approximating the total global electricity demand. However, extract much more energy and the model showed the Earth’s surface cooling, precipitation decreasing, and sea-ice cover increasing.
Filed Under: Uncategorized