Limits to Wind Power Utilization

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Science  06 Apr 1979:
Vol. 204, Issue 4388, pp. 13-17
DOI: 10.1126/science.204.4388.13


As wind energy receives increasing attention it is important to understand the noneconomic factors limiting the total power that can be extracted from the wind. These factors are examined here with a macroscopic approach. An upper global limit of 1.3 x 1014 watts is arrived at with a sublimit of 2 x 1012 watts for the continental United States. Some general conclusions are also reached regarding the sites that would have to be utilized to achieve these levels. Even within these limits, wind energy is seen to offer a potential far larger than many other self-renewing energy sources.