Thursday, September 01, 2011

Windy Miller

This isn't science fiction, but unless I'm mis-reading this: Europe's onshore and offshore wind energy potential (Technical report ; No 6/2009) / European Environment Agency. It is both technically feasible, and market economic, to provide all of Europe's project energy needs via wind-power.
Leaving aside some of the environmental, social and economic considerations, Europe's raw wind energy potential is huge. Turbine technology projections suggest that it may be equivalent to almost 20 times energy demand in 2020.
Despite being a small proportion of the total technical potential, the economically competitive wind energy potential still amounts to more than three times projected demand in 2020.
The main limiting factors appear to be changes needed to integrate the Europe Wide energy grid to overcome lulls in the wind - so when it is is calm in Ireland the wind in Germany can still keep the juice flowing (this overcomes a central objection to wind power) but it would be a major infrastructure project.
high penetration levels of wind power will require major changes to the grid system i.e. at higher penetration levels
additional extensions or upgrades both for the transmission and the distribution grid
might be required to avoid congestion of the existing grid
They suggest a total economic potential of 12,200 Terra Watt hours in 2020. Given wind run on less than full capacity almost all the time, we need to roughly quarter that figure (I think).

So, all that is required is the political will, and the international integration and co-operation in order to provide energy for all of Europe's needs - and we can even use solar and bio-mass to complement wind, or (as in Scotland) hydro-electric power to off-set the variability.

Of course, in the UK, lots of landowners are objecting to "eye sores" and complaining about windmills, because they spoil the countryside (and thus the value of their property).

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