Wind power is to be said unreliable because due to the unpredictabillity of wheather, turbines typically generate only about one-fifth of the energy they’d make if they actually ran. But energy planners have devised tactics to make wind power reliable.
One of the best way is to construct grid connections between different regions of the U.S. Many wind farms are interconnected through the grid and about one-third of the electricity they generate can be counted on as a reliable source of around-the-clock power. A study of the University of Delaware published this spring concluded that a offshore grid, connecting wind generators along the East Coast could provide relatively stable output. So utilities can plan to shunt surplus power generated in one of the country to areas that need it. Over a simulated five-year period, power never petered out entirely.
However wind power is intermittent and the saviest grid connections have limits. If wind can supply about 30 percent of the planet’s electricity by 2030 so power sources like nuclear, hydropower and solar will be needed as supplements. So it might not a good idea to place all bets on wind. But with the latest turbines able to generate pollution-free electricity at less 5 cents per kilowatt-hour, it wouldn’t be smart to let wind go by the wayside while we invest in less sustainable fuels.
(Popular Mechanics Magazine)