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Wind power could meet half the world’s power needs

Amsterdam, The Netherlands — ESI-AFRICA.COM — 04 February 2011 – A newly released academic study claims that the installation of 3.8 million 5MW 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 that climate change, pollution, and energy insecurity were among the greatest problems of our time.

“Addressing them requires major changes in our energy infrastructure,” said two California academics, Mark Z. Jacobson and Mark A. Delucchi. “Here, we analyse 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 “’ who is in the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California “’ estimated 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 would reduce world power demand by 30% and required 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 of today.”

Their study showed that wind power could supply 50% of projected total global power demand in 2030, while the concentrated solar plants, the solar PV power plants and the rooftop PV systems could supply another 40%. The remainder would come from geothermal and hydro-electric power plants, wave devices and tidal turbines.

The study also showed that the total footprint on the ground for the 3.8 million wind turbines would only be 48 sq km, which is smaller than Manhattan. The existing transmission infrastructure would of course need to be greatly expanded.

On a European level, The European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) is endorsing a declaration calling for a 100% renewable energy vision by 2050. EWEA believes by 2050 wind energy could supply 50% of Europe’s power needs, provided certain actions were taken “’ above all the power grid being extended and upgraded in good time.
The effort would require 3.5 trillion euro’s (US$4.8 trillion) a year in spending by 2035 on modernising buildings and electricity grids and expanding wind farms and solar parks. It would take until 2040 to pay off.

This ‘Energy Policy’ report is the second one this month claiming that almost all of the world’s demand for energy for electricity, transportation and heating could be met from renewable sources such as wind, solar and geothermal power by 2050.

“The Energy Report” “’ a report produced over two years by WWF with researchers at Dutch organisations Ecofys and the Office for Metropolitan Architecture “’ claimed that the share of oil, coal, gas and nuclear power in the global energy mix could be whittled down to 5% over the next four decades. Energy saving measures could cut total demand by 15% from 2005 levels, even as the population, industrial output, freight and passenger travel rise,” they said.

View the full report here.