June 16, 2009
High-altitude wind study shows
who's sitting pretty
Three of the world's largest cities
-- New York, Tokyo and Seoul -- are sitting under veritable gold mines
Globally, there is enough wind energy at higher altitudes
to power the world 100 times over thanks largely to the jet streams.
An analysis of 37 years of data shows the best places and altitudes
for harnessing the energy. The sweet spots are about 10,000 meters
above four swaths of the globe: Japan, Korea and eastern China; the
east coast of the US; southern Australia; and northeastern Africa.
The median wind power density at those spots is more than
10 kilowatts per square meter, which is 10 to 100 times greater than
is available to surface-based wind turbines. Even at 500 meters, wind
power density over the central United States is greater than half
a kilowatt per square meter.
No one has figured out how to harness high-altitude winds,
though a handful of startup companies are working on the problem.
of High Altitude Wind Power
Energies, published online May 26, 2009
Cristina L. Archer
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June 29, 2009
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