For wind energy aficionados, one of the most interesting stories to make its way across the internet last week involved an academic study claiming that the installation of 3.8 million 5 MW wind turbines could generate half the world’s power needs by 2030.
Published in the respected journal Energy Policy, and entitled ‘Providing all global energy with wind, water, and solar power,’ the study noted climate change, pollution, and energy insecurity are among the greatest problems of our time.
“Addressing them requires major changes in our energy infrastructure,” said the two California academics, Mark Z. Jacobson and Mark A. Delucchi. “Here, we analyze the feasibility of providing worldwide energy for all purposes (electric power, transportation, heating/cooling, etc.) from wind, water, and sunlight (WWS).”
Jacobson, who is in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Stanford University, and Delucchi, in the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California in Davis, estimate that by combining the 3.8 million wind turbines with enough concentrated solar, solar PV, geothermal and hydroelectric plants, as well as wave devices and tidal turbines, by 2030 the world could use electricity and electrolytic hydrogen for all purposes.
“Such a WWS infrastructure reduces world power demand by 30% and requires only 0.41% and 0.59% more of the world’s land for footprint and spacing, respectively,” they said.
“We suggest producing all new energy with WWS by 2030 and replacing the pre-existing energy by 2050. Barriers to the plan are primarily social and political, not technological or economic. The energy cost in a WWS world should be similar to that today.”