Generally Eclectic

Wind Energy

Technologies for Getting to Zero Emissions by 2060

Question: How fast are technologies to address climate change developing, particularly with regard to wind energy?

GenerallyEclectic looked at Canada's Greenhouse Gas emissions and found that in 2012, the combustion of fossil fuels (petroleum products, natural gas, coal) account for just under 80 percent of emissions. In a low emission world, this energy source will need to be replaced. There are a number of candidates to replace fossil fuels: solar, hydro, thermal, tidal, nuclear. One of the most promising is wind energy.

As a vast country, Canada has an abundance of potential for wind energy.

To answer the question on how fast wind energy technologies are developing, GenerallyEclectic looked at articles in Science Daily on wind energy for the previous eighteen months, which at the time of writing was December 1, 2018 to May 31, 2020. Titles, summaries and links to the relevant articles are provided, so you can make your own judgments.

The summaries presented here are limited to Science Daily findings, which are in turn determined by Science Daily's methodology, which is outlined at About Science Daily. To the extent that Science Daily undoubtedly missed some technological developments, this summary under-reports developments.

Findings

  1. US Wind Plants Show Relatively Low Levels of Performance Decline as They Age
    May 13, 2020 —Wind plants in the United States remain relatively efficient over time, with only a 13% drop in performance over 17 years, researchers report. Their study also suggests that a production tax credit provides an effective incentive to maintain the plants during the 10-year window in which they are eligible to receive it. When this window closes, wind plant performance drops.
  2. Solar and Wind Energy Sites Mapped Globally for the First Time
    May 4, 2020 — Researchers have mapped the global locations of major renewable energy sites, providing a valuable resource to help assess their potential environmental impact.
  3. Supercomputing Future Wind Power Rise
    Apr. 14, 2020 — First detailed study of scenarios for how wind energy can expand to 20 percent of total US electrical supply by 2030. Results showed expansion of installed capacity makes small impact on efficiency and local climate by deploying next generation, larger wind turbines. Improved calculations of US wind resources can ensure better decision making and a better, more robust energy supply.
  4. Designing Lightweight Glass for Efficient Cars, Wind Turbines
    Mar. 26, 2020 — A new machine-learning algorithm for exploring lightweight, very stiff glass compositions can help design next-gen materials for more efficient vehicles and wind turbines. Glasses can reinforce polymers to generate composite materials that provide similar strengths as metals but with less weight.
  5. Quadrupling Turbines, US Can Meet 2030 Wind-Energy Goals
    Feb. 24, 2020 — he United States currently produces about 7% of its electricity from wind energy...A quadrupling of the installed capacity of wind turbines from 2014 levels will allow us to attain the goal of 20% of electricity from the wind, without requiring additional land, or negative impacts on systemwide efficiency or local climates.
  6. Could Water Solve the Renewable Energy Storage Challenge?
    Feb. 19, 2020 — Seasonal pumped hydropower storage (SPHS), an already established yet infrequently used technology, could be an affordable and sustainable solution to store energy and water on an annual scale... Compared with other mature storage solutions, such as natural gas, the study shows that there is considerable potential for SPHS to provide highly competitive energy storage costs.
  7. An Early Warning System for Damage in Composite Materials: New mechanophore senses damage to fiber reinforced polymers
    Feb. 18, 2020 — A team has developed a tool to monitor changes in widely used composite materials known as fiber reinforced polymers (FRPs), which can be found in everything from aerospace and infrastructure to wind turbines. The new tool, integrated into these materials, can help measure the damage that occurs as they age.
  8. Consider Marine Life When Implementing Offshore Renewable Power
    Dec. 17, 2019 — With countries adopting green energy practices, renewable energy now accounts for a third of the world's power. As this trend continues, more countries are looking to offshore energy sources to produce this renewable energy. Researchers identify situations where green technology such as wind turbines, wave energy converters, and other marine renewable energy devices (MREDs) have had negative consequences on marine life.
  9. Supporting Structures of Wind Turbines Contribute to Wind Farm Blockage Effect
    Dec. 12, 2019 — Much about the aerodynamic effects of larger wind farms remains poorly understood. New work looks to provide more insight in how the structures necessary for wind farms affect air flow. Using a two-scale coupled momentum balance method, researchers theoretically and computationally reconstructed conditions that large wind farms might face in the future, including the dampening effect that comes with spacing turbines close to one another.
  10. Biodiversity and Wind Energy
    Nov. 27, 2019 — The location and operation of wind energy plants are often in direct conflict with the legal protection of endangered species. The almost unanimous opinion of experts from local and central government authorities, environmental NGOs and expert offices is that the current mechanisms for the protection of bats in wind power projects are insufficient.
  11. Decarbonizing the Power Sector
    Nov. 19, 2019 — Electricity supply is one of the biggest CO2 emitters globally. To keep global warming well below 2°C, several paths lead to zero emissions in the energy sector, and each has its potential environmental impacts ... Using a first-time combination of multiple modelling systems, an international team of researchers led by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) has now quantified the actual benefits and downsides of three main roads to decarbonisation. They show that relying mainly on wind and solar would bring most co-benefits for the health of people and planet. Switching to carbon capture and storage in combination with fossil and biomass resources, in turn, is likely to convey significant environmental costs by devouring large areas at the cost of biodiversity, and by releasing pollutants to the environment.
  12. Boosting Wind Farmers, Global Winds Reverse Decades of Slowing and Pick Up Speed
    Nov. 19, 2019 — In a boon to wind farms, average daily wind speeds are picking up across much of the globe after about 30 years of gradual slowing. Research shows that wind speeds in northern mid-latitude regions have increased by roughly 7% since 2010.
  13. Superconducting Wind Turbine Chalks Up First Test Success
    Nov. 12, 2019 — A superconducting rotor has been successfully tested on an active wind turbine for the first time. The researchers designed, developed, manufactured a full-size superconducting generator for a 3.6 megawatt wind turbine, and field-tested it.
  14. Study Shows Where Global Renewable Energy Investments Have Greatest Benefits: New metrics can guide investors and policymakers working to reach sustainable development goals
    Nov. 12, 2019 — New study finds that the amount of climate and health benefits achieved from renewable energy depends on the country where it is installed. Countries with higher carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and more air pollution, such as India, China, and areas in Southeast Asia and Eastern Europe, achieve greater climate and health benefits per megawatt (MW) of renewable energy installed than those operating in areas such as North America, Brazil, and parts of Europe.
  15. Where to Install Renewable Energy in US to Achieve Greatest Benefits: Models offer guidance for state and national policymakers designing climate action plans
    Oct. 29, 2019 — A new study shows that to achieve the biggest improvements in public health and the greatest benefits from renewable energy, wind turbines should be installed in the Upper Midwest and solar power should be installed in the Great Lakes and Mid-Atlantic regions.
  16. To Rid Electric Grid of Carbon, Shore Up Green Energy Support
    Oct. 28, 2019 — Engineers, along with an economist, have created an energy model that helps to remove carbon-generated power from the US electric grid -- replacing it with a greener, financially feasible wind, solar and hydro energy system.
  17. Replacing Coal With Gas or Renewables Saves Billions of Gallons of Water
    Oct. 21, 2019 — The transition from coal to natural gas in the US electricity sector is reducing the industry's water use, research finds. For every megawatt of electricity produced using natural gas instead of coal, the water withdrawn from rivers and groundwater drops by 10,500 gallons, and water consumed for cooling and other plant operations and not returned to the environment drops by 260 gallons. Switching to solar or wind power could boost these savings even more.
  18. Computer Models Show Clear Advantages in New Types of Wind Turbines
    Oct. 16, 2019 — Researchers have modeled the fluid dynamics of multi-rotor wind turbines via high-resolution numerical simulations. The simulations demonstrate a clear advantage for a turbine model with four rotors. The researchers found, that the wind turbine wake recovers much faster with multi-rotor turbines, that multi-rotor turbines produce slightly more energy than single-rotor turbines, and that a turbine with four rotors as far apart as possible is the optimal construction.
  19. Model Helps Choose Wind Farm Locations, Predicts Output
    Sep. 24, 2019 — The wind is always blowing somewhere, but deciding where to locate a wind farm is a bit more complicated than holding up a wet finger. Now a team of researchers has a model that can locate the best place for the wind farm and even help with 24-hour predictions of energy output.
  20. New Report Deepens Understanding of Wind-Wildlife Interactions
    Sep. 23, 2019 — The report examines wind-wildlife interactions and places them within the larger context of climate change challenges, citing the need to balance wildlife conservation with the urgent need for rapid and deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. It summarizes what is known about wind energy impacts on sensitive wildlife and on where these species live, and it identifies areas where further research is needed.
  21. Europe Has the Untapped Onshore Capacity to Meet Global Energy Demand
    Aug. 14, 2019 — Europe has the capacity to produce more than 100 times the amount of energy it currently produces through onshore windfarms...In an analysis of all suitable sites for onshore wind farms, the new study reveals that Europe has the potential to supply enough energy for the whole world until 2050.
  22. Growth of Wind Energy Points to Future Challenges, Promise
    Aug. 13, 2019 — Advances in adapting the technology for cold climates and offshore use and better methods for predicting wind conditions have fanned significant growth of the use of wind turbines for electricity in the last 40 years. A new report ... report notes dramatic improvements in the technology, thanks in part to economies of scale, and foresees even larger, more cost-effective turbines in the future.
  23. Supercomputers Use Graphics Processors to Solve Longstanding Turbulence Question
    July 25, 2019 — Turbulence is extremely difficult to study but is important for many fields of engineering, such as air flow past wind turbines.... Understanding turbulence better would allow engineers to design more efficient turbine blades...(C)urrent engineering models of turbulence often rely upon 'empirical' relationships based on previous observations of turbulence to predict what will happen, rather than a full understanding of the underlying physics.This is because the underlying physics is immensely complicated, leaving many questions that seem simple unsolved.Now, researchers at Imperial College London have used supercomputers, running simulations on graphics processors originally developed for gaming, to solve a longstanding question in turbulence. Their result...means empirical models can be tested and new models can be created, leading to more optimal designs in engineering.
  24. Offshore Wind Farm Increased Tourism on Block Island
    May 6, 2019 — Researchers who analyzed AirBnB rental data before and after construction of the Block Island Wind Farm have found that, contrary to some concerns, the turbines have been linked with increased tourism on the island.
  25. Mapping Industrial 'Hum' in the US
    Apr. 26, 2019 — Using a dense sensor network that scanned the United States between 2003 and 2014, researchers have identified areas within the country marked by a persistent seismic signal caused by industrial processes...They realized that part of the infrasound signal they were detecting was coming from wind farms tens of kilometers away from the detectors
  26. Renewables Are a Better Investment Than Carbon Capture for Tackling Climate Change
    Apr. 8, 2019 — Solar panels and wind turbines coupled with energy storage offer a better hope for tackling climate change than trying to capture carbon from fossil fuel power stations, according to new research. New research shows that resources that would be spent on developing and installing carbon capture technologies would be better invested in creating more solar panels and wind turbines and focusing on developing energy storage options to support these instead.
  27. Good News! Europe's Electric Grid Will Still Work Even as the World Crumbles
    Mar. 6, 2019 — Temperatures may climb and seas may rise, but the lights (and, undoubtedly, the air conditioning) will still be on in nations with high capacities for wind and solar energy. New research suggests that these electricity systems should work almost equally well in both historical and future European climates despite changing weather patterns.
  28. How Power-to-Gas Technology Can Be Green and Profitable
    Feb. 26, 2019 — Hydrogen production based on wind power can already be commercially viable today...Economists ... have now described ...how flexible production facilities could make this technology a key component in the transition of the energy system...In an environmentally friendly energy system, however, hydrogen could play a different role: as an important storage medium and a means of balancing power distribution networks: excess wind and solar energy can be used to produce hydrogen through water electrolysis. This process is known as power-to-gas. The hydrogen can recover the energy later, for example by generating power and heat in fuel cells...
  29. Upwind Wind Plants Can Reduce Flow to Downwind Neighbors
    Dec. 18, 2018 — New ...research highlights a previously unexplored consequence of the global proliferation of wind energy facilities: a wake effect from upwind facilities that can reduce the energy production of their downwind neighbors....The study uses atmospheric modeling along with economic and legal analysis to demonstrate that wind facility wake effects -- which occur when groups of turbines reduce wind speed for miles behind them -- are measurable and predictable.