Link to North American natural gas

Link to North American oil


Charley prefers a calm day.

Wind Energy

The importance of wind energy from the point of view of transportation is that it can produce electricity. Electricity can directly power vehicles, but may, as we shall see below, be even more useful to help make methanol and other fuels, by powering electrolysis machines which can separate water into hydrogen and oxygen.The hydrogen can be combined with CO2, for example, to make methanol.

Wind Belts

The US is graced with 3 major wind belts, up the midwest and off both coast lines. The strongest winds (blue, followed by red) are along the east and west coastlines, with a stretch off the southern Texas coastline. The belt running up the middle off the country has its strongest winds in South Dakota, North Dakota and the eastern edge of the Rocky Mountains, with a patch just south of El Paso. But the very large swat in the central wind belt has winds considered good for electrical generation via wind turbines. The great lakes have outstanding winds. As does the coastline and see off the coast of Alaska. Even Hawaii has significant winds off the coasts of Maui.

The winds on the coasts and in Lake Michigan have special significance as they are located near the centers of population and industry. Transmission of electrical energy is subject to loses, so it is important to generate it as close to the locations of its use as possible.

The wind situation at 80 meters above the ground is even much more favorable. The swat of 8-9 m/s is extensive and continuous. The speeds are increased from the highs of 7-7.5 m/s at 50 m/s over much of the middle of the country. Since the force exerted on an airfoil of the turbine blades is proportional to the square of the speed of the wind, if we go from 7-9 m/s the force needed to turn the blades increases by a factor of 9*9/7*7 = 81/49 = 65 percent - a very large increase. Thus, the higher we can put the turbines above the ground, the more electricity we can produce.

Intermittency of the wind

Using raw wind generated electricity as input the the current US grid is a challenge. We can do more by both modernizing our grid and its controls, and by working on storage ideas for wind generated electricity. more to come


Costs are coming down

For some years now, the cost of modern wind turbine generated electricity has been under 5 cents a kilowatt hour.