SEARCH

SEARCH BY CITATION

Keywords:

  • wind power;
  • electricity;
  • least square errors

[1] The goal of this study is to quantify the world's wind power potential for the first time from data. Wind speeds are calculated at 80 m, the hub height of modern, 77-m diameter, 1500 kW turbines. Since relatively few observations are available at 80 m, the Least Square extrapolation technique is utilized and revised here to obtain estimates of wind speeds at 80 m given observed wind speeds at 10 m (widely available) and a network of sounding stations. Tower data from the Kennedy Space Center (Florida) were used to validate the results. Globally, ∼13% of all reporting stations experience annual mean wind speeds ≥ 6.9 m/s at 80 m (i.e., wind power class 3 or greater) and can therefore be considered suitable for low-cost wind power generation. This estimate is believed to be conservative. Of all continents, North America has the largest number of stations in class ≥ 3 (453), and Antarctica has the largest percent (60%). Areas with great potential are found in northern Europe along the North Sea, the southern tip of the South American continent, the island of Tasmania in Australia, the Great Lakes region, and the northeastern and northwestern coasts of North America. The global average 10-m wind speed over the ocean from measurements is 6.64 m/s (class 6); that over land is 3.28 m/s (class 1). The calculated 80-m values are 8.60 m/s (class 6) and 4.54 m/s (class 1) over ocean and land, respectively. Over land, daytime 80-m wind speed averages obtained from soundings (4.96 m/s) are slightly larger than nighttime ones (4.85 m/s); nighttime wind speeds increase, on average, above daytime speeds above 120 m. Assuming that statistics generated from all stations analyzed here are representative of the global distribution of winds, global wind power generated at locations with mean annual wind speeds ≥ 6.9 m/s at 80 m is found to be ∼72 TW (∼54,000 Mtoe) for the year 2000. Even if only ∼20% of this power could be captured, it could satisfy 100% of the world's energy demand for all purposes (6995–10177 Mtoe) and over seven times the world's electricity needs (1.6–1.8 TW). Several practical barriers need to be overcome to fully realize this potential.