Let's ignore the current high capital design, which assumes they will never be damaged badly in 80 years. They are in fact, high maintenance, and at 50 cents per kilowatt hour subsidy(a massive premium. They are nos sustainable. So the question I will answer, how do I expect wind will look at when we make it work.
-It will look humble in comparison, we are not making massive projects to convert collected chemical energy into electric power, we are passively collecting energy from the elements. It will have to be low intensity and small in scale to keep the cost of a kilowatt hour down.
-The first limitation is the Betz Limit, a wind blade can not collect more then 59.3% of the wind energy that goes through it, this assumes it is the perfect wind blade, the real number is less. As turbines are expensive and high maintenance, it means we will have to have more then one blade per turbine. Something like the sky serpent.
-The biggest subsidy provided to wind is the non-enforcement of wildlife laws. If a coal fired plant killed as many bald eagles as a certain wind farm did there will be hell to pay. To offset this they need to find a bird-friendly alternatives to blades. It will have to be cost effective.
-Size, or amount of energy per turbine captured, do not matter. In a mass project all that matters is cost per output. It doesn't matter tiny and only captures a kW a day if it does so a less then 10 dollar per megawatt hour(10 cents a kilowatt hour). It will have to cost less then fossil fuels because of the intermittent nature, we will have to build infrastructure to store power. I we can create enough it would be possible to use this extra power to collect hydrogen, but this is well in the future.
Such options may become available in the future, but this will require time and come slowly. It is a fascinating consideration and is probably the future, but to build policies for here and now on technology that is expensive and unproductive is not realistic. Oil gets less subsidies and shale exploitation is going to make the US an energy exporter within a decade. Wind now we need to ramp up and down fired steam plants. This is like driving highway vs city driving in a car, the highway driving does more with less emissions. A modern steam plant today with controls would decrease carbon emissions per megawatt hour for a fraction of the price. The saved subsidies can assist in balancing the budget, as well as promoting consumer side energy efficiency. The technology to cheaply turn off lights and turn down heater and AC via your cellphone now exists. As well as new types of polyester based insulation. This would be a wiser choice in my eyes for here and now.
Yellowstone could probably power the whole of North America, until it blows up.
geothermal would work in hawaii, alaska, yellowstone(which could probably generate enough for hundreds of thousands.
Who says you need to need a geological active volcanic field to produce geothermal power?
Estimates of the electricity generating potential of geothermal energy vary from 35 to 2000 GW depending on the scale of investments. This does not include non-electric heat recovered by co-generation, geothermal heat pumps and other direct use. A 2006 report by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), that included the potential of enhanced geothermal systems, estimated that investing 1 billion US dollars in research and development over 15 years would allow the creation of 100 GW of electrical generating capacity by 2050 in the United States alone. The MIT report estimated that over 200 zettajoules (ZJ) would be extractable, with the potential to increase this to over 2,000 ZJ with technology improvements - sufficient to provide all the world's present energy needs for several millennia.
Australia Capacity in 2010 1.1 MW and Australia does not even have any geo-active volcanic fields!
Interesting, the concept of the earth making steam for us excites me.
By LiveScience Staff | LiveScience.com
The concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere hit a record high in 2011, the United Nations' World Meteorological Organization (WMO) reported Tuesday (Nov. 20).
Chief among these heat-trapping gases is carbon dioxide (CO2), the biggest culprit behind global warming. Carbon dioxide levels reached about 390.9 parts per million last year, which is 140 percent of the pre-industrial level of 280 parts per million and nearly 2 parts per million higher than the 2010 carbon dioxide level, according to the WMO report.
The international body estimates that about 413 billion tons (375 billion metric tons) of carbon have been released into the atmosphere since 1750, primarily from fossil fuel combustion. About half of this atmospheric carbon dioxide remains in the atmosphere, and much of it will linger for centuries, causing the planet to warm further, WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud warned.
Historically, the Earth's oceans and forests have helped balance the atmosphere's carbon equation by sucking up large amounts of the greenhouse gas. But Jarraud said natural carbon sinks might not be able to mitigate the problem as effectively in the future.
"Until now, carbon sinks have absorbed nearly half of the carbon dioxide humans emitted in the atmosphere, but this will not necessarily continue in the future," Jarraud said in a statement. "We have already seen that the oceans are becoming more acidic as a result of the carbon dioxide uptake, with potential repercussions for the underwater food chain and coral reefs. There are many additional interactions between greenhouse gases, Earth's biosphere and oceans, and we need to boost our monitoring capability and scientific knowledge in order to better understand these."