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There are a few reports on Great lakes wind potentials. A recent one from the State of Michigan gave their offshore potential as 131 GW - but that involved the use of deep turbine foundations (spars, jack-up rigs), since Lake Michigan's average depth is about 200 to 300 meters.

Of course, the real answer is the wind potential is often a function of what price you can get for the electricity. Trying to compete with an old polluting coal burner like the one near Ludington is hopeless (less than 4 c/kw-hr production cost). That's a big hurdle to get over. States like Michigan are pretty hooked on supercheap coal based electricity. Besides, Michigan is over 180 meters above sealevel - raising ocean waters by 20 to 40 meters is not immediately their problem......

Anyway, another source of information on Great Lakes wind potential can be found at http://www.greengold.org/wind/engineer.html ---> "A Great Potential". For 0 to 20 meters, maximum potential is about 150 GW, and for the 0 to 40 meter depths, about 250 GW. It's definitely enough to power up the US North Coast/Canadian South Coast.

One of these days I should update it.

Nb41

by nb41 on Sat Jan 24th, 2009 at 10:51:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oops, I forgot - Lake Superior averages 400 meters in depth, and it gets really deep really fast. The Lake Superior coastline is over 400 miles long (640 km), and the average distance to Canada is over 100 miles. Splitting the difference gets you a lot of area (over 30,000 square miles. Lake Superior winds are almost to North Sea scale, close to Baltic Sea (average about 8.5 to 9 m/s at 100 m heights. And, there is 31,820 mi^2 of area, and only 1 million people live around it (mostly near Duluth, Minn, the least windy zone). Or 82,400 km^2 - see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Superior. And since most of that water away from shore is still directly drinkable...corrosion is not much of a problem. Thanks to Global Warming, not much ice anymore, either.

So, lets split the difference and say there is 30,000 km^2 of usable Michigan area for the Big Cold One. At 8 MW delivered per km^2 (Horns Rev value, adjusted for the lower wind speed). There's 240 GW of average output all by itself - or about 50% of the entire US demand. Of course, this is deep water foundations here (in some cases, over 400 meters), and it is cold and not very friendly waters (one (and perhaps 2) of Jacques Cousteau's sons died in these waters), so its is not a trivial matter like, say, Lake St Clair, which has lower winds but an average depth of 6 meters.

And the Michigan UP is a great place to store electricity via pumped water, especially in the Western part - lots of 500 to 1000 ft drops, and largely uninhabited. That same goes for a lot of the Wisconsin and Ontario coastal areas (maybe only 300 feet for Ontario, but that encompasses a LOT of area. The best storage site would probably be Northern Minnesota - the Mesabi Iron Range, for example.

These could easily store the peak supply for the Chicago-Milwaukee-Minneapolis-St Paul-Detroit and Cleveland regions. Just add HVDC and away you go, although it's best to distribute the pumped hydro in a more dispersed patter, But still, Lake Superior could be the battery for much of the Midwest US, pumped hydro speaking. And I bet it would require a lot of employment to do that...cool.

Nb41

by nb41 on Sat Jan 24th, 2009 at 11:13:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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