Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Wedge Strategy: Wind Power

What is Needed?
To reduce carbon emissions by 1 billion tons per year using wind power, 2 million more turbines will need to be installed on an area roughly the size of Germany.

2 million additional turbines
6 turbines per km
333,333.33 km
1/1500 of the earths surface or,
roughly the size of Germany

What it looks like?
3 or more km inland from the shore.

Usually placed on hillsides or ridges to exploit topographic acceleration. As wind approaches, the hill or ridge causes the wind to accelerate as it is forced over it, resulting in vast gains in the amount of energy able to be produced.

Farmers can lease their land to companies for the building of wind farms for $2,000-$5,000 annually. Less than 1% of the land is used for foundations and access, therefore it can still be used for farming and grazing.

These areas are also protected from further development.

3 km off shore on land, 10 km off shore on water.

Tend to be good site for turbines seeing that a source for wind is convection, which is caused by the difference in temperatures and rates of heating and cooling of land and water.

As with onshore facilities these areas can as well be used for farming and are protected from development.

10 or more km off shore.

Water has less surface roughness than land, resulting in greater windspeeds. Because of these greater speeds the capacity is higher allowing for the use of shorter towers, reducing their obtrusion in picturesque landscapes.

Although the towers can be shorter visually, many times because of the depth of the water they need to be taller overall raising costs. Also raising costs are a more difficult instalation and maintence process as well as corrosion caused by salt water.

The effect of offshore wind farms on aquatic life is currently unknown positivly. Noise pollution due to the turbines has the potential to impact creatures such as whales who use similar frequencys to those being emitted by the turbines in deeper locations.

I think that wind power is a good candidate for producing a wedge. Looking at the scale as 1/1500 the surface of the earth as opposed to the size of Germany makes it a more feasable number. For instance there is enough wind power off of the atlantic coast of the United States to power 75% of eastern seaboard needs. On top of wind farms placed in open waters out of the way of shipping routes farm land does not have to be sacrificed in order to install turbines on land.

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