This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

May 25, 2005

Global Wind Power Study Finds Huge Potential

A new global wind power map has found enough wind energy to easily supply the world's power, according to the American Geophysical Union (AGU). Researchers from Stanford University collected wind speed measurements from about 7,500 surface stations and 500 balloon-launch stations to determine global wind speeds at 80 meters (300 feet) above the surface, which is the hub height of modern wind turbines. Using a mathematical technique to extend those results over the entire globe, the Stanford researchers report that nearly 13 percent of world experiences winds with average annual speeds of 15 miles per hour, which the researchers consider strong enough for power generation. Such wind speeds were found in every region of the world, although North America was found to have the greatest wind power potential. The report was published on June 30th in the Journal of Geophysical Research - Atmospheres, an AGU publication.

The authors found that the locations with suitable wind resources could produce about 72 trillion watts of power. In contrast, DOE's Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimated the world's electricity-generating capacity in 2002 at 3.45 trillion watts. See the AGU press release, the article as posted on the Stanford Web site (PDF 16.6 MB), and the electricity tables from EIA's International Energy Annual 2002. Download Adobe Reader.