February 21, 2012
Maybe there is hope for the wind turbine after all. The lack of fossil fuels in Japan, coupled with the recent Fukushima meltdown, seems to have influenced the country to invest in research and development of wind energy and, according to a recent study, their investments are paying off. Researchers at Kyushu University have designed a new wind turbine using an innovative aerodynamic design that they claim can triple the output of a typical wind turbine.
My limited review suggests that there is some truth to their claims. The new design, called a “wind lens,” is a ring structure that surrounds the blades and is designed to accelerate wind flow. This wind flow increases blade rotation and energy output.
If this study is accurate, then this new design would make wind power cheaper and more efficient than nuclear power. For the United States, which possesses 2.2 million km2 of high wind potential according to estimates made by the International Clean Energy Analysis (ICEA), this also means that potentially the majority, if not all, of the country’s energy usage could be provided for by wind turbines. If 20% of these wind sources were developed (440,000 km2), 8.7 billion MWh of electricity could be produced each year. Tripling that would bring the total to 26.1 billion MWh. Considering the United States uses about 26.6 billion MWh a year, the energy output from wind turbines could account for the vast majority of its energy usage.
Though the data above has been extrapolated and the results of the study seem to reach idealist conclusions, it does indicate that advancements in wind energy technology are being made. This appears to be worthy of further investigation. To do so, please visit here.
The statistics were provided by Karl Burkart at Mother Nature Network.