Can wind energy meet our growing energy needs? Depends upon how fast it can grow!
Wind energy production currently meets just over 1% of our energy needs in the United States. Wind energy proponents have set a goal of boosting wind energy production to meet 20% of the nation's total electricity needs by 2030. This means that wind production would be boosted to about 300,000 megawatts in 2030 (from 16,818 megawatts in 2007).
What do current rates of wind energy increase tell us about our ability to meet this goal?
Since 1980 wind energy production has increased at a net rate of 57% annually. Would this be a sufficient rate of growth for meeting the 2030 goal?
- I need a hint: Starting at 16,818 megawatt installed capacity
- ... another hint ... : Calculating a 23 year period
I think I have the answer: Yes! 16,818×1.5723 = 538,848,097 megawatts
But wait a minute! World wind energy production may have grown exponentially overall, but there have been major variations in growth rates (including declines) between different years, especially when you look at a single country. These fluctuations have been in part due to changes in tax incentives that promote wind energy, and public demand for wind power.
If wind energy production increased annually at the 2004 rate (6%), would we meet the 2030 goal, starting with the 2007 installed capacity?
- I need a hint: 2007 installed capacity is 16,818 Megawatts
I think I have the answer: NO! 16,818×1.0623 = 64,241 megawatts
What if wind energy production increased annually at the 2006 rate (27%), would we meet the 2030 goal, starting with the 2007 installed capacity?
- I need a hint: Just change the multiplier
I think I have the answer: Yes! 16,818×1.2723 = 4,104,497 megawatts
Copyright University of Maryland, 2007
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