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Friday, 1 April 2011

David McKay's estimate of onshore wind energy

This is an extract from McKay's book Sustainable Energy Without The Hot Air

Potential energy from onshore wind in the UK can be calculated by multiplying the average power per unit of land area covered by a wind farm by the area per person (population density) thus arriving at the power available per person from wind.

Assuming the wind speed is 6 metres per second (13 miles per hour or 22 km/h), the power per unit area of a wind farm is 2W per square metre. In reality the figure of 6 metres per second is probably an over estimate for many locations in Britain, Cambridge only recorded such a figure on about 30 occasions during the course of 2006.

The population density is about 250 people per square kilometre which is 4000 square meters per person. Therefore wind could generate (assuming the 6 metres per second figure for wind speed) 8000 W per person.

This is assuming that wind turbines stretched across the entire country.

If you convert that figure to the commonly used unit for power (kilowatt-hour which is termed one unit on electricity bills and costs about 10 pence) that is 200 kilowatt hours per day per person.

If we imagine only 10% of the country being covered by wind turbines, that reduces the figure to 20 kWh/d per person. This is half the power used to drive an average fossil-fuel car for 50km per day.

Therefore energy generated by onshore wind is much less than our current consumption of energy.

Compared to other countries, the wind turbines needed to generate 20 kWh/d per person would be fifty times the current wind energy hardware of Denmark and seven times that of Germany. Essentially, double the entire fleet of wind turbines in the world.

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