Wind power holds the promise of bolstering the power grid with a non-polluting renewable energy resource. Whether or not we could power all the automobiles of the world with wind energy has more to do with human nature than it does with the technology involved in making it happen.
Understanding Wind Energy
First, it is important to understand wind energy is constantly under development. Every year engineers find a better way of producing energy from wind turbines. They make them more efficient and more productive, making more energy with every turn of the blade.
As this process progresses we will see more energy being produced by fewer turbines. What will also need to happen is an increase in the ability of the grid to handle the energy produced by these turbines. So far, battery capacity cannot keep up with the needs of an all-electric power grid. Right now in the United States a great abundance of the power we use every day is produced on-demand by plants which derive their energy from coal fired power plants. Nuclear and natural gas-powered plants also provide a great deal of energy. As battery technology improves we will be better able to store energy when we don’t need it and release it when we do. This technology will be crucial to using an all-electric power grid.
The battery technology that will make an all-electric power grid possible will also make our electric cars travel farther and get more boost from the electricity they use. Charging them will take seconds, compared with hours today, and mileage will far exceed, or at least match the efficiency of today’s gasoline powered vehicles.
We Always Want More – Not Less
After years of improvement and the addition of dozens, if not hundreds of available options for every new vehicle, today’s drivers have no interest in trading in their gas guzzlers for a vehicle that has a rougher ride, no navigation system and a serious lack of legroom. They don’t want less of a car in exchange for better mileage, they want more. The demanding nature of today’s automobile owners might just be enough to spur a drastic change in the nature of the automobile.
With the current wind producing technology we could power a fleet of electric vehicles with one turbine. Next year that number will increase exponentially. Today’s electric cars use hundreds of lithium batteries to make their charge last longer and go further than ever before. Buyers are definitely expressing more interest in electric vehicles, both plug-ins and hybrids, than ever before. As vehicle engineers find new ways of extending the life of these batteries and getting more from less, buyers interest will only increase. Increased demand makes the market that much more lucrative for automobile manufacturers looking to sell more cars.
In the final analysis, whether or not wind energy will produce all the power needed to keep those vehicles on the road will rely more on public demand than the limits of technology.