A new study, entitled ‘Geophysical limits to global wind power’ from Carnegie Institution Department of Global Ecology in Stanford California, states that wind energy could provide 20-100 times the current global power demand.

The model is theoretical and doesn’t take into account societal, environmental, climatic or economic considerations.

Wind power
The report estimates that about 4 million wind turbines, each operating at a height of 300 feet, would provide more than half of the world’s power demands, but according to the Guardian, significant technical and resource problems would have to be overcome, not least of which is finding the money to construct millions of turbines.

“Looking at the big picture, it is more likely that economic, technological or political factors will determine the growth of wind power around the world, rather than geophysical limitations,” co-author Ken Caldeira said.

Transmission is the biggest hurdle facing wind today and in the near future, said Tom Levy, an energy expert at the Canadian Wind Energy Association.

The world’s electrical transmission grids were purpose-built for large-scale coal, oil, gas and hydro generation. Solar and wind are different in that they are intermittent and decentralised.

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