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The May, 2005 issue of The Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres sports a new series of maps, highlighting the location of the best spots for generating massive amounts of wind-energy.

You might find the results a bit shocking:  

Wind power could provide up to forty times more electricity than worldwide demand.

LiveScience offers this method summary:

Scientists gathered wind speed data from about 8,000 locations on the planet - 7,500 surface stations and 500 balloon-launch stations. They measured the wind speeds 260 feet (80 meters) above the ground surface, which is the height of a modern wind turbine's hub.

At the surface stations, they could only measure wind speeds at 33 feet (10 meters), but they developed a method to figure out what that meant for winds at the more important height.
They found that 13 percent of the 8,000 spots were capable of averaging Class 3 wind speeds throughout the course of the year. Class 3 winds are greater than 15.4 mph (6.9 meters per second), which is considered strong enough to be economically feasible.

North American Wind Energy Potential:

[for a larger image click here]

World Wind Energy Potential:

[for a larger image click here]

Again, LiveScience:

If harnessed, these sites with Class 3 and higher wind speeds could provide 72 terawatts of electricity - enough to run 1.2 trillion 60-watt light bulbs or 48 billion toasters.


About 2.5 million wind turbines -- together capturing about 20 percent of what's available based on the new maps -- would be needed to produce all the world's electrical needs.

[emphasis mine]

This may sound outlandish at first but consider that Colorado has a potential wind capacity of: 54,900 in megawatts, New Mexico has a 50,000 megawatt potential, Montana - 116,000 megawatts, Wyoming - 85,000 megawatts, Arizona - 35,430 megawatts.  Also consider that Colorado is currently only producing 229 megawatts of wind energy, New Mexico - 267, Montata - 2 and Arizona - 0

(Source: American Wind Energy Association)

About 1% of America's energy currently comes from the wind.

What this study shows is the enormous potential of alternative resources.  Its time Congress wake up and smell the coffee.  

As I said yesterday wind and solar will not supply all of our energy needs.  Our nation must pursue a balanced, multi-pronged approach to energy policy that includes all types of energy sources - the bulk being so-called "green energies".

Work like this should lend a powerful incentive to policy makers and energy companies as it helps them locate the best spots for wind energy development and shows the vast potential for accessing such a resource.

Additional maps are available at: The Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres

Originally posted to environmentalist on Wed May 25, 2005 at 08:28 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  And don't buy this hookey about turbines killing (4.00)

    Ok, turbines DO kill both birds and bats but the damage is relatively minor and can easily be alleviated through such thing as turbine redesign, rotation speed variance, turbine height variance and locating turbines out of migration and flight corridors (often just a few yards in difference).

    Consider that for every 10,000 human-caused bird deaths in the United States, only 1-2 of those deaths are caused by wind turbines.  900 million birds die every year from running into glass windows.  The Exxon-Valdez spill killed over 500,000 birds.

    Wind energy is a great resource.  NO energy resource is without its problems and challenges but wind and solar offer so many more benefits and so many less detriments than do fossil fuel sources.


    "People cannot stand too much reality." - Carl Jung

    by environmentalist on Wed May 25, 2005 at 08:27:35 AM PDT

    •  PNM (none)
      Sky Blue

      You now can purchase electricity generated by New Mexico's winds, an easy and affordable way for you to demonstrate your commitment to our state and its environment.

      Subscribing to PNM Sky BlueTM is voluntary and you will continue to receive our reliable service.


      They should just automatically use wind power, not make you specify it.  

      The wind farm is:

      Located 170 miles southeast of Albuquerque and 20 miles northeast of Fort Sumner...

      Click the photo for a cool slide show.

      •  Yes. (none)
        Same thing here in Taos, Page.  You have to specify that you want the "green energy" and then you have to pay more....even tho they are telling us that they (kit carson electric co-op) dont themselves pay more for it....I think what they want to do is use the extra money to reinvest in more "green" but they are very unclear about that and people in Taos are confused as to what their motives are...

        "People cannot stand too much reality." - Carl Jung

        by environmentalist on Wed May 25, 2005 at 08:41:14 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  There are important impacts on birds (4.00)
      and other wildlife.  The effects are not limited to direct collisions with turbines.  They include displacement of birds from areas near turbines, barriers to movement, loss of habitat, habitat fragmentation, and direct hits.  Birdlife has released an interesting report on these issues in Europe.  There conclusions and recommendations would also to apply to North America.

      You are correct in saying that the effects of collisions can be mediated.  As can many of the above effects.  But, I hope as we move forward with wind energy development we can develop a regulatory framework for citing wind farms that takes these impacts into account, instead of dismissing them as hookey.

      One approach would be to develop a map showing the ranking of the impacts of wind farms on wildlife by geographical location.  We could then establish no-go zones, places where strict regulations are required and other areas where we don't need to worry to much.

      Disclosure.  I make part of my living as a consultant for wind farm developers.  I am pro-wind farm.  I just hope we move forward with this with our eyes wide open.

      We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children. ~Native American Proverb

      by petewsh61 on Wed May 25, 2005 at 09:20:40 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Very well said. thanks! (none)
        You are right on.  With a whole new resource like this to access, it would be ridiculous of us not to  go into it eyes wide open using all of our gathered knowledge.  

        We know the migration cooridors of many terrestrial and avian species.  We know when and where bats travel.  In the cases where we dont, we need to do the research FIRST.

        We would also need to take into the account  the harmful effects of roads and other construction and maintenance impacts.

        We CAN do this but we need a good regulatory framework as you say and a clear committment from the energy companies to make this a truely GREEN technology.  thanks again for the comment.

        "People cannot stand too much reality." - Carl Jung

        by environmentalist on Wed May 25, 2005 at 11:09:10 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  How many megawatts would be produced if (none)
    wind generators were placed on the floor of the Senate and the floor of the House?  Or how about placing one behind McClellan, since he's talking out of his ass so often.  

    But seriously, the problem with wind farms is that they will need to be constructed away from population centers -- and I'm not talking about mid to large sized cities.  I'm talking about rural population centers.  Even progressive strongholds such as Ithaca, NY, which is not exactly a large metro area, are wary of allowing wind farms to be constructed near populated areas.  

    Reality is just... a point of view - Philip K. Dick; Beautiful thing, the destruction of words. (from Orwell's 1984)

    by LionelEHutz on Wed May 25, 2005 at 08:32:18 AM PDT

    •  MegaWatts from the Senate Floor? (none)
      Try TeraWatts!
    •  Yes. We could probably (none)
      power the world by accessing all the hot air on capital hill...


      Again, the political aspect of this will be the most diffucult.  Just a few months ago, the people on Nantucket were all in an uproar about wind turbines being placed off the coast of Mass.
      They felt it would ruin thier view (although a friend of mine who visited there said that you could hardly see them - more faint than a ships sail on the horizon).  

      But I am sure those same peopledont mind using natural gas that comes from raped wild areas in the southwest.

      You raise a very good and tough question.

      "People cannot stand too much reality." - Carl Jung

      by environmentalist on Wed May 25, 2005 at 08:37:21 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I Completely Disagree (none)
        Wind farms should be sited as close to population centres, especially large ones, as possible. For two reasons.

        1. There is an exponential loss of the enrgy generated through electricity transmission lines; about 10% of the power at the source gets delivered to the lightbulb, the shorter the distance, the less loss, the less you have to generate.
        2. We have to remember every day the cost of what we are doing. By siting stuff out of sight, it is too often out of mind and we continue to be heedless and careless. If we had to confront the reality of endless windmills we would be more cautious about creating more demand.

        Incidentally, I came through Vienna the other day and Austria is littered with wind turbines, in singles and small groups near rural towns and about 5 miles from Vienna airport there is a huge wind farm with what looked like thirty of 40 turbines.

        The Austrians are getting it, but then the Europeans always have. That's why between 40% and 80% of their gas price is tax.

        "Till the Last Dog Dies"

        by Deep Dark on Thu May 26, 2005 at 05:22:37 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Hey, I clicked on that link to the larger map and (none)
      wouldn't you know, a red dot (indicating a air speed velocity of 8.6< V 9.4 ms) appears to be right over the Washington D.C. metro area.  

      Reality is just... a point of view - Philip K. Dick; Beautiful thing, the destruction of words. (from Orwell's 1984)

      by LionelEHutz on Wed May 25, 2005 at 08:37:42 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  add methane (none)
      from the shit on the Congress floor and we can kiss Saudi Arabia good bye!  (Trucks and buses can easily run on liquified methane).
      •  Hey--Vancouver Island Has Methane Ice (none)
        offshore doesn't it? It also has a shipload of black wind dots along the west coast.

        In America, we'd mine the methane ice in order to run the windwmill factories. Maybe the Canadians would be smart enough to harness wind power to mine the methane.

        We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy....--ML King, "Beyond Vietnam"

        by Gooserock on Wed May 25, 2005 at 09:14:35 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Please explain... (none)
      why wind turbines "must" be built away from cities.

      Why not put wind turbines on top of tall buildings in big cities? Ever been on top of a skyscraper? It's pretty windy up there. Noise problems? Cities are already so noisy, I doubt anyone would notice a little more. Ugly infrastructure? Cities are already pretty damn ugly, IMHO. I think the lessening of smog from burning fossil fuels might enhance the view.Bird kill? Nyc, Chicago, LA, etc aren't exactly nature sancturies. I don't think people--even environmentalists, would get all that upset if it were just pidgeons.

      So what am I missing here?

      •  Use the Interstate Highway Right-of-Way (none)
        For both solar and wind collection -- and transmission -- where appropriate.

        It's an old suggestion of my dad from years ago when he worked at the Energy Dept.

        We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy....--ML King, "Beyond Vietnam"

        by Gooserock on Wed May 25, 2005 at 09:16:38 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Oops--Another Point About Buildings (none)
        I've heard advocates recommend initial deployment of fuel cells to city buildings.

        It would help develop a market and the support infrastructure during the phase when they're still too heavy for use in vehicles.

        So, sure, use buildings for solar and wind too. Right now all that surface area is lamely using the sunlight to screw with wind and precipitation patterns downwind.

        We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy....--ML King, "Beyond Vietnam"

        by Gooserock on Wed May 25, 2005 at 09:21:11 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I agree. (none)
        I also agree with Gooserock on the highway thing.

        There are a number of ways wind turbines could be integrated into the cityscape.  Even the new WTC-replacement design has a giant turbine up top to produce wind energy.  I too think that lovely, graceful turbines could augment a city-scape rather than detract.

        But its always that political thing: a lot of people THINK that they wont like them so they'll fight against them without knowing anything.

        "People cannot stand too much reality." - Carl Jung

        by environmentalist on Wed May 25, 2005 at 09:22:38 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The political thing is my point. (none)
          Even a progressive community is against them being placed in their backyard.

          Reality is just... a point of view - Philip K. Dick; Beautiful thing, the destruction of words. (from Orwell's 1984)

          by LionelEHutz on Wed May 25, 2005 at 10:27:55 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  And with the Clipper Wind turbine (below) (none)
        You CAN place turbines closer to cities or even IN cities as you suggest.  The Clippers with their Distributed Generation Drivetrain can produce electricity even from low wind speeds because of their 16 gears and 4 generator sets!

        Great idea, on top of buildings, as the more local the generator, the less loss of power through transmission lines!  There would be no loss at all and could easily plug into the grid.

        Field of Clippers

      •  This is what I am saying (none)
        If Ithaca NY residents don't want these wind turbines in THEIR backyard, and Ithaca is a very progressive community compared to the rest of the country, imagine the backlash in a less progressive area.

        Reality is just... a point of view - Philip K. Dick; Beautiful thing, the destruction of words. (from Orwell's 1984)

        by LionelEHutz on Wed May 25, 2005 at 10:24:58 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Combine that with the greatest invention in the (none)
    history of renewable energy:  the 16-gear, 4-generator, 25% more efficient Clipper Wind turbine:

    The invention that will save the world


  •  Great diary--please see related one (none)

    Two Senators are trying to include a provision in the energy bill that would all but kill wind power in the US.

    •  Thanks for the link. (none)
      That is insane.  Alexander doesnt know what they hell he is  talking about.  Damn!  Once again, if reality doesnt match up with your beliefs...deny, deny, deny.

      "People cannot stand too much reality." - Carl Jung

      by environmentalist on Wed May 25, 2005 at 09:25:24 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  WOW (none)
    Take a look at the US compared to the rest of the world on that map.

    Then think about how much the US pollutes compared to the rest of the world right now... But how could we possibly lower those pollution levels?

    Hmmm... Coal?

    It was a cold, bright day in April and the clocks were striking thirteen.

    by Stradavus on Wed May 25, 2005 at 08:41:31 AM PDT

  •  You know what I'd like to see ... (none)
    I wish an industry would develop that provided products for individual homeowners and small businesses to "inexpensively" generate their own energy locally. Then we wouldn't have to worry about uninformed politicians making decisions for the rest of us.

    Nothing unconnected ever occurs. -- E. Swedenborg

    by TerraByte on Wed May 25, 2005 at 10:25:24 AM PDT

  •  Thank you (none)
    Recommended and cross-posted at my blog.
  •  Glad to see these maps, but for the ... (none)
    ...record, a similar one has been produced annually since the 1980s in the Wind Energy Resource Atlas of the United States. Here's its look at the contiguous 48:

  •  People think too much (none)
    The problem with all of this alternative energy stuff is that people think about it too much...what if it kills the birds? What if we add too much? Yadda yadda yadda. After a point, thinking too much just means that things don't get done. I think we should just start building alternative energies, like wind, it's got to be better than either oil, coal or natural gas. Why hesitate? daily energy news and discussion

    by theWatt on Sun May 29, 2005 at 12:26:04 PM PDT

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