Little Limit to the Amount of Wind Energy

Two groups of scientists say we can take as much wind power as we need without changing the climate

3 min read
wind mills in the ocean at sunset.

11 September 2012—The wind may qualify as a renewable resource, but “renewable” has its limits. Exactly how much energy we can feasibly pull from the wind has been something of a controversial question in recent years, with some studies suggesting that wind power is not the planet saver it’s cracked up to be. Simulations unveiled this week by scientists in Delaware and California, though, argue that if anything, economics and politics will hold wind development back, rather than geophysical limits.

Wind-power systems work by taking the kinetic energy of wind and turning it into mechanical energy in the turbine to create electrical energy. Laws of physics tell us that the total amount of energy can’t change, so at least a minor slowing of the wind is expected as it passes through the turbine.

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How to Prevent Blackouts by Packetizing the Power Grid

The rules of the Internet can also balance electricity supply and demand

13 min read
How to Prevent Blackouts by Packetizing the Power Grid
Dan Page

Bad things happen when demand outstrips supply. We learned that lesson too well at the start of the pandemic, when demand for toilet paper, disinfecting wipes, masks, and ventilators outstripped the available supply. Today, chip shortages continue to disrupt the consumer electronics, automobile, and other sectors. Clearly, balancing the supply and demand of goods is critical for a stable, normal, functional society.

That need for balance is true of electric power grids, too. We got a heartrending reminder of this fact in February 2021, when Texas experienced an unprecedented and deadly winter freeze. Spiking demand for electric heat collided with supply problems created by frozen natural-gas equipment and below-average wind-power production. The resulting imbalance left more than 2 million households without power for days, caused at least 210 deaths, and led to economic losses of up to US $130 billion.

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