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Author DeCarolis, Joseph Frank
Title The economics and environmental impacts of large-scale wind power in a carbon constrained world
book jacket
Descript 175 p
Note Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 65-11, Section: B, page: 5610
Adviser: David Keith
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Carnegie Mellon University, 2004
Serious climate change mitigation aimed at stabilizing atmospheric concentrations of CO2 will require a radical shift to a decarbonized energy supply. The electric power sector will be a primary target for deep reductions in CO2 emissions because electric power plants are among the largest and most manageable point sources of emissions. With respect to new capacity, wind power is currently one of the most inexpensive ways to produce electricity without CO2 emissions and it may have a significant role to play in a carbon constrained world. Yet most research in the wind industry remains focused on near term issues, while energy system models that focus on century-long time horizons undervalue wind by imposing exogenous limits on growth. This thesis fills a critical gap in the literature by taking a closer look at the cost and environmental impacts of large-scale wind
Estimates of the average cost of wind generation---now roughly 4¢/kWh---do not address the cons arising from the spatial distribution and intermittency of wind. This thesis develops a theoretical framework for assessing the intermittency cost of wind. In addition, an economic characterization of a wind system is provided in which long-distance electricity transmission, storage, and gas turbines are used to supplement variable wind power output to meet a time-varying load. With somewhat optimistic assumptions about the cost of wind turbines, the use of wind to serve 50% of demand adds ∼1--2¢/kWh to the cost of electricity, a cost comparable to that of other large-scale low carbon technologies
This thesis also explores the environmental impacts posed by large-scale wind. Though avian mortality and noise caused controversy in the early years of wind development, improved technology and exhaustive siting assessments have minimized their impact. The aesthetic valuation of wind farms can be improved significantly with better design, siting, construction, and maintenance procedures, but opposition may increase as wind is developed on a large scale. Finally, this thesis summarizes collaborative work utilizing general circulation models to determine whether wind turbines have an impact of climate. The results suggest that the climatic impact is non-negligible at continental scales, but further research is warranted
School code: 0041
Host Item Dissertation Abstracts International 65-11B
Subject Environmental Sciences
Engineering, Environmental
Alt Author Carnegie Mellon University
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