Studies find Earth has enough wind to power the world

CBS News investigative correspondent Sharyl Attkisson identifies 11 green-energy companies, besides Solyndra, that got billions of tax dollars, then declared bankruptcy. iStockphoto

(CBS/AP) - Two new studies say Earth has more than enough wind to power the entire world, at least technically.

One study, conducted by Carnegie Institution for Science and published in "Nature Climate Change," focused on the total planetary availability of wind power. The first line in the study says it all: "There is enough power in Earth's winds to be a primary source of near-zero-emission electric power as the global economy continues to grow through the twenty-first century."

Both studies looked solely at the global geophysical limits of wind power: is there physically enough wind on planet Earth to make wind power a dominant form of energy creation? The answer is a resounding yes.

But the research looks only at physics, not finances. Other experts note it would be too costly to put up all those wind turbines and transmit energy to all consumers. As the Carnegie Institution of Science notes, "It is likely that wind power growth will be limited by economic or environmental factors, not global geophysical limits."

The studies are by two different U.S. science teams and were published in separate journals Sunday and Monday. They calculate existing wind turbine technology could produce hundreds of trillions of watts of power. That's more than 10 times what the world now consumes.

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