MIT discovery could provide big boost for wind power

Tom Jackson
Mar 23, 2010

Suddenly, wind power as an energy source looks more feasible than it did just a few weeks ago.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has discovered a new way to store energy produced from solar power so that the energy is still available when the sun goes down. A July 31 news release from MIT says that the method is a "simple, inexpensive, highly efficient process."

This is potentially a big deal because there's a big problem with the fashionable, "green" methods for producing energy: They only work part of the time. You can't get energy from solar after sunset, and wind turbines stop moving if the wind isn't blowing. There is no good, cheap method for storing really large amounts of electricity.

That's why although wind and solar power is growing, the U.S. still has to rely on coal plants, nuclear power and other conventional power sources to provide sufficient power.

Wind power has been touted as a key to economic development in for the Lake Erie Coast -- because we can make the wind turbine components, but also because we can produce the power, too.

A new report by produced for the Erie County Economic Development Corp. by AngelouEconomics says the county should work to become a wind power hub. An article by Harvey Wasserman at RenewableEnergyWorld.com says that "standardized wind maps of the Great Lakes region show one of the most concentrated potential green energy resources in the world."

The MIT news release dwells on the solar angle. But I asked the news release's author, Anne Trafton, if the discovery couldn't make wind power more practical, too.

"The researchers who developed this are focusing on solar, but it could in theory also be used to store energy produced by wind turbines," she replied.

I'll have more on this in an article in the Sunday paper.

Comments

reader

Sounds like an interesting development. I look forward to the day I can install a windmill and solar panels at home and stop paying the utility companies......or at least pay a lot less.

Keep giving us the latest in green energy development, please!

Gulliver

We should all be interested in this topic. If you are, I want to encourage you to mark your calendar for Sept. 8th 2pm - 4pm. (Location still to be finalized). There will be a 2nd public forum entitled AFFORDING HOME HEATING: WHAT'S IN OUR FUTURE - Part II. At this forum one of the panelists is Mark Cironi, President of Green Energy Technologies and the inventor of urban windmill; Ohio Senator Mark Wagoner will also be speaking on the panel. And Janine Migden-Ostrander, Lead Attorney for the State agnecy that advocates for consumer rights with utilties.

The PUCO seems to be looking fondy on utility companies applyng for rate increases. Only when the customer can get off the grid and onto an alternative system for power/energy, are the consumers going to be protected from high costs. BUT THAT WILL TAKE REAL CITIZEN INVOLVEMENT.
I HOPE YOU STEP UP TO THE PLATE! This issue of furthering the cause of an alternative system to First Energy, Columbia Gas and propane/fuel oil needs you!

Anonymous

Think about it, the city could create a new tax for wind turbines....and the city commissioner could all become green politicians with all the wind they produce!

Anonymous

Congratulations to MIT for tackling the main problem behind the renewable energy sources of wind and sun.

A man by the name of T. Boone Pickens is presently building what will be the largest wind farm in the country in Sweetwater, Texas. He has a plan for building a wind corridor through the Midwest that you might be interested in learning more about.

As a nation, we need to get behind wind and solar power as much safer alternatives to nuclear energy.

Anonymous

Let's think carefully before jumping on the wind-power dream bandwagon here in Erie County. Erie Co. has only Class 4 wind, the minimum for effecive wind power generation. By comparison, North Bass Island has Class 5 wind, and states such as Nebraska, Texas and New Mexico have Class 6-7 winds. It would seem that T. Boone Pickens has it right with the idea of a wind generating corridor up the middle of the US. With major industries folding locally, who's going to use the power that is generated?
Look at http://www.awstruewind.com/ and http://blog.cleveland.com/busine... and then make up your own mind. Erie County needs better education and better jobs to bring educated people here to live.

Anonymous

Capture all of the wind from Sandusky city hall. Lots of blowhards and windbags there.

Anonymous

There's certainly wind there, but it doesn't consistently blow in a productive direction.