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miércoles, 10 de noviembre de 2010

Wind Power Fading With Climate Change

We've heard that fossil fuel reserves are dwindling. Now research suggest we may have less wind resources to tap in the future as well.

Wind turbines may have less fuel in a warmer world, because as the polar regions warm up there will be less wind, said Diandong Ren a researcher at the University of Texas in Austin.

Using wind power now is therefore more efficient than in the future said Ren in an article published in the American Institute of Physics' Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy.

"Delayed investment means more investment," said Ren in the journal article.

Not only is wind power more efficient now, it may help stop the reduction in wind speeds, Ren said. Windmills will reduce the need for coal and natural gas and prevent the warming that will make the windmills less efficient.

The persistent winds that blow a little over a half-mile above the Earth's surface depend on a temperature difference between the mid-latitude areas and the poles. The mid-latitudes, where the U.S., Europe and most of China are located, are generally warmer than the poles. The bigger the temperature difference, the faster the winds.

Global warming is causing the polar regions to warm faster than the mid- latitudes. That reduces the temperature difference and reduces wind speed.

Ren's research suggests that a 2-4 degree Celsius (3.6- 7.2 degree Fahrenheit) temperature increase in Earth's mid to high-latitudes would result in a 4-12 percent decrease in wind speeds in certain high northern latitudes.

“Wind energy will still be plentiful and wind energy still profitable, but we need to tap the energy source earlier," said Ren.

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