Nav: Home

Quadrupling turbines, US can meet 2030 wind-energy goals

February 24, 2020

ITHACA, N.Y. - The United States could generate 20% of its electricity from wind within 10 years, without requiring any additional land, according to Cornell University research published in NatureScientific Reports.

"The United States currently produces about 7% of its electricity from wind energy," said Sara Pryor, professor in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences. "This research shows that a quadrupling of the installed capacity of wind turbines from 2014 levels will allow us to attain the goal of 20% of electricity from the wind, without requiring additional land, or negative impacts on systemwide efficiency or local climates."

Pryor worked with Rebecca Barthelmie, professor in the Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, and postdoctoral researcher Tristan Shepherd to develop scenarios for how wind energy can expand from current levels to one-fifth of the entire U.S. electricity supply by 2030, as outlined by the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in 2008.

Called the "20% Wind Scenario," the NREL report noted that generating 20% of U.S. electricity from wind could eliminate approximately 825 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions in the electrical energy sector in 2030.

From 2016 to 2017, wind-generated electricity in the U.S. grew by 12% to 254 terawatt hours - then increased another 8.3% to 275 terawatt hours in 2018, the researchers said. In context, the U.S. currently uses approximately 310 to 320 terawatt hours of electricity each month - generated from coal, natural gas, nuclear and renewable energy power plants.

"Wind energy is already playing a key role in decarbonizing the global energy system," Pryor said. "Wind turbines repay the lifetime carbon emissions associated with their deployment and fabrication in three to seven months of operation and provide nearly 30 years of virtually carbon-free electricity generation."

But, the researchers asked, does quadrupling the number of wind turbines reduce the efficiency of turbine fleets that gather energy? And can that generation negatively affect the local climate?

In high-density arrays of large wind turbines, the researchers examined possible declines in systemwide efficiency associated with a phenomenon called "wind turbine wakes," where the wind speed is slowed by extraction of momentum by wind turbines. This wake is eroded by mixing with undisturbed air in the atmosphere, but can reduce the wind speed that impinges on downstream wind turbines.

"The 'theft' of wind by upstream wind turbines reduces the overall power produced by the total ensemble of wind turbines and the enhanced mixing (turbulence) can alter local climate conditions close to wind turbines," said Barthelmie.

The researchers offered scenarios - such as repowering turbines with improved technology - for expanding the installed capacity of wind turbines without using additional land. The researchers demonstrated that expansion of the installed capacity has a tiny influence on systemwide efficiency and very small impacts on local climate that are reduced by deploying large, state-of-the-art turbines.
-end-
The research was funded by the Office of Science at the U.S. Department of Energy and is based on an extensive series of high-resolution atmospheric simulations.

Cornell University has dedicated television and audio studios available for media interviews supporting full HD, ISDN and web-based platforms.

Cornell University

Related Electricity Articles:

Mirror-like photovoltaics get more electricity out of heat
New heat-harnessing 'solar' cells that reflect 99% of the energy they can't convert to electricity could help bring down the price of storing renewable energy as heat, as well as harvesting waste heat from exhaust pipes and chimneys.
Engineers use electricity to clean up toxic water
Powerful electrochemical process destroys water contaminants, such as pesticides. Wastewater is a significant environment issue.
Considering health when switching to cleaner electricity
Power plants that burn coal and other fossil fuels emit not only planet-warming carbon dioxide, but also pollutants linked to breathing problems and premature death.
Windows will soon generate electricity, following solar cell breakthrough
Semi-transparent solar cells that can be incorporated into window glass are a 'game-changer' that could transform architecture, urban planning and electricity generation, Australian scientists say in a paper in Nano Energy.
Static electricity as strong as lightening can be saved in a battery
Prof. Dong Sung Kim and his joint research team presented a new technology that can increase the amount of power generated by a triboelectric nanogenerator.
To make amino acids, just add electricity
By finding the right combination of abundantly available starting materials and catalyst, Kyushu University researchers were able to synthesize amino acids with high efficiency through a reaction driven by electricity.
Using renewable electricity for industrial hydrogenation reactions
The University of Pittsburgh's James McKone's research on using renewable electricity for industrial hydrogenation reactions is featured in the Journal of Materials Chemistry A's Emerging Investigators special issue.
Water + air + electricity = hydrogen peroxide
A reactor developed by Rice University engineers produces pure hydrogen peroxide solutions from water, air and energy.
Producing electricity at estuaries using light and osmosis
Researchers at EPFL are working on a technology to exploit osmotic energy -- a source of power that's naturally available at estuaries, where fresh water comes into contact with seawater.
Experimental device generates electricity from the coldness of the universe
A drawback of solar panels is that they require sunlight to generate electricity.
More Electricity News and Electricity Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: The Power Of Spaces
How do spaces shape the human experience? In what ways do our rooms, homes, and buildings give us meaning and purpose? This hour, TED speakers explore the power of the spaces we make and inhabit. Guests include architect Michael Murphy, musician David Byrne, artist Es Devlin, and architect Siamak Hariri.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#576 Science Communication in Creative Places
When you think of science communication, you might think of TED talks or museum talks or video talks, or... people giving lectures. It's a lot of people talking. But there's more to sci comm than that. This week host Bethany Brookshire talks to three people who have looked at science communication in places you might not expect it. We'll speak with Mauna Dasari, a graduate student at Notre Dame, about making mammals into a March Madness match. We'll talk with Sarah Garner, director of the Pathologists Assistant Program at Tulane University School of Medicine, who takes pathology instruction out of...
Now Playing: Radiolab

What If?
There's plenty of speculation about what Donald Trump might do in the wake of the election. Would he dispute the results if he loses? Would he simply refuse to leave office, or even try to use the military to maintain control? Last summer, Rosa Brooks got together a team of experts and political operatives from both sides of the aisle to ask a slightly different question. Rather than arguing about whether he'd do those things, they dug into what exactly would happen if he did. Part war game part choose your own adventure, Rosa's Transition Integrity Project doesn't give us any predictions, and it isn't a referendum on Trump. Instead, it's a deeply illuminating stress test on our laws, our institutions, and on the commitment to democracy written into the constitution. This episode was reported by Bethel Habte, with help from Tracie Hunte, and produced by Bethel Habte. Jeremy Bloom provided original music. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.     You can read The Transition Integrity Project's report here.