The U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) has issued a report describing technologies and other measures that can enable greater use of wind energy. Among the recommendations are taller towers to reach the greater available wind energy higher above ground level and to increase the possible locations for this equipment. The report also addresses some of the challenges, and presents some potential remedies, for the challenges that face wind power, including environmental effects. Michael Cooney reports at Network World that “new technologies could also help use wind energy from US regions such as the Southeast which would represent an additional 700,000 square miles—or about one-fifth of the United States—bringing the total area of technical wind potential to 1.8 million square miles,” according to the report.
A fundamental problem with wind (and solar) energy is their intermittent nature: they provide what they provide, when they provide it, but that provision has nothing to do with demand. The benefit of other energy sources like coal and nuclear is they can tailor their output for the demand. That isn’t to say alternative sources have no place, but integrating them into the grid—particularly in the absence of a strong large-scale battery technology—is a challenge. Germany, for instance, has struggled with the outcomes of its headlong rush into alternative energy.
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