The objectives of this white paper are to outline fundamental research questions on wind energy that are appropriate for universities to address and to recommend the development of a program supporting basic research in utility-scale wind energy.
The complex character of wind motions and the varying demands on power make this an immensely difficult problem, with many basic questions that have only recently emerged. The scale and interdisciplinary nature of the problem, in which fluid dynamics, control, structures, power distribution, and economic, social and environmental issues are inextricably linked, is ideally suited to collaboration among universities, national laboratories and industry, where a multiplicity of disciplines can freely exchange ideas.
This initiative is of the utmost urgency, given continuing political instabilities in the Middle East, the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, the concern over coal mine safety, e.g. the West Virginia, Upper Big Branch Mine explosion of 2010, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the environmental problems associated with hydraulic fracturing to produce natural gas and the overriding problem of climate change.
Wind energy is playing an ever-increasing role worldwide as a renewable energy source. Denmark, Spain and Germany now produce 19, 11 and 7 percent of their electricity by means of wind while the United States, although second only to China in installed capacity, meets only 1.7 percent of its electric power demand with wind…
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