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NASA Data Could Boost Wind Production December 9, 2008

Posted by OldGuy in Wind Power.
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NASA has a long history of spinning off cool technology for non-NASA purposes.  Coatings, insulation materials, safety improvements, and Tang.

Recently, NASA released the results of their QuikScat satellite.  QuikScat was launched in 1999 and uses a microwave radar instrument named SeaWinds to track the speed, direction and power of winds near the ocean surface. Data are also used to predict storms and enhance the accuracy of weather forecasts. Those results reveal ocean areas where winds could produce energy.

Wind energy has the potential to provide 10 to 15 percent of future world energy requirements, according to Paul Dimotakis, chief technologist at JPL. If ocean areas with high winds were tapped for wind energy, they could potentially harvest up to 500 to 800 watts of wind power per square meter, according to Liu’s research. Dimotakis notes that while this is less than peak solar power, which is about 1000 watts per square meter on Earth’s surface when the sky is clear and the sun is overhead at equatorial locations, the average solar power at Earth’s mid-latitudes under clear-sky conditions is less than a third of that. Wind power can be converted to electricity more efficiently than solar power and at a lower cost per watt of electricity produced.

Ocean wind farms have less environmental impact than onshore wind farms, whose noise tends to disturb sensitive wildlife in their immediate area. Also, winds are generally stronger over the ocean than on land because there is less friction over water to slow the winds down — there are no hills or mountains to block the wind’s path.

Areas with large-scale, high wind power potential also can be found in regions of the mid-latitudes of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, where winter storms normally track.

source:  NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab



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