December 7, 2005

U.N. exaggerates wind third-world wind resource by 200

As reported by Reuters and Agence France Presse Monday, the U.N. has found that more of the "third" world is suitable for industrial wind development. This is important because such development would allow them to sell "green credits" to the "first" world who are thereby absolved from reducing their emissions of pollutants and carbon dioxide.

Exploitative motives aside, the estimates as described in the report are way off:
The study defines suitable areas as those that could generate 300 watts per square meter (10.8 square feet), needing winds of at least 6.4-7.0 meters (21-23 feet) per second at 50 meters (164 feet) above the ground.
This translates to just over one megawatt per acre. But wind turbines need a lot of space around them, at least 50 acres per megawatt of maximum output. And average output, because of the variability of wind speed, is typically only a fourth of the maximum. So wind turbines need at least 200 square meters to get that 300 watts out of one square meter.

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