Fun With Numbers…

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Here’s some number fun from one of our readers that we thought was worth sharing. The topic is: “how much land we would need for a massive wind program to power 40% of the US.

Wind turbine in meadow via Shutterstock

The footprint of a wind turbine is typically around 0.25 acres. This includes the tower foundation, roads, and support structures.

In 2010, the US used 4,143 TWh of electricity (or 11,300,000 MWh per day).

Since we’re just guessing what our future grid would look like, let’s assume we get 40% of our electricity from wind; 40% from solar; and 20% from hydro, geothermal, tidal, etc.

4,143 TWh / 365 * 40% = 4,540 MWh per day from wind.

The average wind turbine is around 3 MW and median capacity is now 43%.

3 x 24 hours x 0.43 = 30.1 MWh per day

4,520,000 / 30.1 = 150,166 3MW turbines.

150,166 x 0.25 = 36,040 acres required.

So, a massive wind power program would require 2.4 Manhattan Islands, 1.4 Disney Worlds, or 0.0015% of the US.


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Zachary Shahan

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.

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