Image: Screen grab via YouTube
This just seems too easy: Japanese researchers say that they've discovered a simple way to make wind turbines up to three times as efficient. By placing a 'wind lens' around the turbine blades, they claim that wind power could become cheaper than nuclear.
I'm going to wait until this breakthrough is examined with further scrutiny by the experts before endorsing it -- it just seems like such a straightforward addition should have been experimented with years ago. And I'm sure it has, in one form or another. But who knows, perhaps this could be the 'putting-wheels-on-a-suitcase' moment for wind power.
And clearly, if this innovation checks out, it will have massive implications worldwide.
Let's say we developed just 20 percent of those wind resources -- 170,000 square miles (440,000 km2) or an area roughly 1/4 the size of Alaska -- we could produce a whopping 8.7 billion megawatt hours of electricity each year (based on a theoretical conversion of six 1.5 MW turbines per km2 and an average output of 25 percent. (1.5 MW x 365 days x 24 hrs x 25% = 3,285 MWh's).Karl's analysis (read the whole thing; it's fascinating and infectiously optimistic) reveals not only the potential that a breakthrough of such a caliber would unlock, but how feasible a notion powering the entire country with clean power truly is. The experts say we can power the world with clean energy in just 50 years -- here's yet another reason to believe them.
The United States uses about 26.6 billion MWh's, so at the above rate we could satisfy a full one-third of our total annual energy needs ... Now what if a breakthrough came along that potentially tripled the energy output of those turbines? You see where I'm going. We could in theory supply the TOTAL annual energy needs of the U.S. simply by exploiting 20 percent of our available wind resources.
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