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Today is Going to Be a Scorcher. What Energy Source Will Power Your Air Conditioner? (Hint, It Isn’t Wind)

Today is going to be a scorcher in Minnesota, with high humidity pushing the heat index above 100 degrees in many parts of the state. The National Weather Service is advising people to drink plenty of fluids, stay in an air-conditioned room and out of the sun, and check up on relatives and neighbors.

While you’re checking on your neighbors, you may also want to check here to learn about where the electricity powering your air conditioning will be coming from today.

Here’s a hint: It probably isn’t from the wind.

Wind turbines are only able to generate electricity when the wind is blowing at certain speeds. Most wind turbines begin generating electricity when the wind is blowing at 8 to 9 miles per hour, and generate their maximum amount of electricity with wind speeds of around 30 miles per hour.

Current wind speeds indicate that many parts of the state will only be able to generate small amounts of electricity from wind, and no parts of the state are currently able to run a wind turbine at full speed.

The map from the United States Geological Survey below shows most of the wind turbines in Minnesota are located in southwestern, and southern Minnesota. These areas are only able to generate small quantities of electricity at current wind speeds.

And herein lies one of the most fundamental shortcomings of wind energy, it simply isn’t available on very hot, humid days when it is needed most. Coal and natural gas plants will need to increase their output today to make up for the lack of wind and keep our air conditioners running.

This begs the question: Why do we need the wind turbines at all?

 

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