Onshore wind farms in Europe have the capacity to produce 100 times the energy that is currently generated, according to a new study from the University of Sussex and Aarhus University.
After analyzing all of the suitable sites for onshore wind farms, the team determined that Europe has the potential to supply enough energy for the entire world through the year 2050.
The study revealed that using all of Europe’s available capacity for onshore wind farms would result in an installed capacity of 52.5 terawatts of power.
“The study is not a blueprint for development but a guide for policymakers indicating the potential of how much more can be done and where the prime opportunities exist,” said Professor Benjamin Sovacool.
“Our study suggests that the horizon is bright for the onshore wind sector and that European aspirations for a 100% renewable energy grid are within our collective grasp technologically.”
“Obviously, we are not saying that we should install turbines in all the identified sites but the study does show the huge wind power potential right across Europe which needs to be harnessed if we’re to avert a climate catastrophe.”
The investigation was focused on advanced data from Geographical Information System (GIS)-based wind atlases. This data provided the team with the detailed insight that was needed to pinpoint all of the areas in Europe that are suitable for wind power generation.
The spatial analysis has now identified more than three times the onshore wind potential in Europe than previous studies.
“Critics will no doubt argue that the naturally intermittent supply of wind makes onshore wind energy unsuitable to meet the global demand,” said Professor Peter Enevoldsen.
“But even without accounting for developments in wind turbine technology in the upcoming decades, onshore wind power is the cheapest mature source of renewable energy, and utilizing the different wind regions in Europe is the key to meet the demand for a 100% renewable and fully decarbonized energy system.”
The researchers estimated that more than 11 million additional wind turbines could be installed over almost five million square kilometers of terrain.
“One of the most important findings of this study, aside from the fact that it concludes that the European onshore wind potential is larger than previously estimated, is that it facilitates the ability of countries to plan their onshore wind resource development more efficiently, thereby easing the way for commitments by these countries to move entirely to clean, renewable energy for all purposes,” concluded Professor Mark Jacobson.
The research is published in the journal Energy Policy.
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Image Credit: Envision Energy