Flagstaff, AZ – With Arizona energy producers running out of transmission lines in the next decade or so, the search is on for the best new locations that will power the future. NAU Mechanical engineer Dr. Tom Acker says the answer may be blowin' in the wind.
This is Inquiring Minds, insights from the campus of Northern Arizona University.
Tom Acker looks at wind as if it were a river flowing over complicated terrain dotted with mountains and canyons. Like a river, there are places where the wind will rush through. Then there are places behind hillsides where it collects and spins, like an eddy in a stream.
There is no shortage of wind in northern Arizona, which makes it an extremely enticing energy source to mine.
Acker studies wind quality for magnitude and consistency. He says Coconino County has the best wind in the state. . . at Gray Mountain near Cameron, and farther south.
((Track 4 :20 - :26 "There's a nice wind resource all along the Mogollon Rim, class 3, and class 4, which in the energy world is economically developable."))
Arizona utilities are very interested in getting their hands around this ethereal force. Their goal is to harvest 15 percent of our total energy use from renewable resources such as wind and solar power by 20-25.
But there's a storm of challenges ahead. It's difficult to predict a steady stream of wind. And once you have that, transmission lines need to be nearby so the wind power can be integrated into the energy grid.
With huge potential for this affordable, renewable and abundant resource, the wind is carrying great hope for the future. It's a future Acker envisions with large turbines and slowly drifting blades.
(Track 4 1:56 - 2:04 "They'll be like large trees separated, a forest with large trees and no undergrowth."
Inquiring Minds is a production of KNAU, Arizona Public Radio, I'm Bonnie Stevens