July 14, 2007

Half a percent of conservation, or 60,000 square miles of industrial wind turbines?

"Renewables in Global Energy Supply", International Energy Agency (IEA), January 2007:
Further expansion of wind power will promote significant reductions in greenhouse gases. (pp. 25-26)

The Alternative Policy Scenario presented in this year's World Energy Outlook ... shows how the global energy market could evolve if countries around the world were to adopt a set of policies and measures that they are now considering and might be expected to implement over the projection period. (p. 12)
In 2004, according to the IEA, wind generated 0.47% of the world's electricity, namely, 82 terawatt-hours* (TWh, or 1 million megawatt-hours) out of 17,450 TWh (a figure that is found in another IEA publication, "Key World Energy Statistics", 2006). They project that wind generation will grow about 18-fold by 2030, to 1,440 TWh (p. 12).

But how much will total electricity generation also increase by 2030? On page 13, they state that the share of all renewables will increase from 18% in 2004 to more than 25% of all electricity in 2030, and that the absolute amount will increase from 3,179 TWh in 2004 to 7,775 TWh in 2030. As 3,179 is 18% of 17,450, 7,775 is 25% of 31,100.

Wind's share of electricity generation, therefore, will rise from 0.47% in 2004 to only 4.6% in 2030.

Considering the destruction of landscape and communities, of wildlife and human health, by sprawling wind energy facilities, the responsible choice is obviously to increase conservation by that slight amount and say NO to big wind.

*According to the AWEA, 7,976 MW of wind capacity was added worldwide in 2004, for a total at the end of the year of 47,317 MW. The average for the year from the capacity at the end of 2003 (39,341 MW) to that at the end of 2004, therefore, is 42,329 MW. An output of 82 million MWh (average rate of 9,361 MW) represents 22% of that capacity. At a 22% capacity factor, 1,440 TWh would require an installed capacity of 750,000 MW. Requiring at least 50 acres per installed megawatt, that would be a total of 60,000 square miles. (Not to mention the millions of tons of materials, miles of roads and transmission lines, cement, etc.)

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