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Tag archives: weather modelling

Wind turbines’ effect on the wind underestimated

By Hamish Johnston

David Keith

David Keith.
(Courtesy: Eliza Grinnell, Harvard SEAS Communications)

How much energy could be generated worldwide using wind turbines? That’s the sort of back-of-the-envelope calculation that physicists love.

Estimates by scientists had put the generation rate at somewhere between 56 and 400 TW. To put that into perspective, a typical nuclear or fossil-fuel power plant churns out about 1 GW.

However, these calculations don’t tend to consider the impact of huge wind farms on the wind itself. Now, David Keith of Harvard University and Amanda Adams of the University of North Carolina have used a “mesoscale” weather model to do just that.

Their conclusion is that previous estimates of global wind capacity could be as much as 10 times too high.


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