Not actually a good representation for wind energy potential, because wind power is cubic in wind speed (v^2 for kinetic energy per unit volume, times v^1 for volume/(cross sectional area * unit time)). So energy potential is concentrated in the "long tail", infrequent high winds. (E.g. 30 mph is 8x more powerful than 15 mph, 27x more than 10 mph). The distribution looks much more "uneven" -- both in space (clustered) and time (fluctuating) -- than a linear-in-windspeed map shows.
Off topic: if anyone's looking for a slightly gigantic weather history dataset ("oodles of terabytes"), look at . It has accumulated "a few thousand" weather stations, at 5 minute intervals, going back "a few" years (I forget the numbers).
It's easy enough to convert something like that to energy potential, but when determining whether a site has good potential for wind energy development we really do tend to think of the wind in terms of speed (in m/s) and not energy density.
Depending on the capture technology (even specific wind turbine models using a certain technology) and project arrangement the variation even at a single location is very high.
And this is a beautiful visualization of the flow.
If you are in the business of determining whether a site has good potential for wind energy development, answer me this if you can: what is the maximum realistic potential percentage of the U.S. energy consumption that windpower could satisfy in 10, 20, 30, 40, and 50 years given realistic conditions (funding, available land, etc.)?
Note for those unfamiliar with the field: there is a considerable difference between "X% of electricity use" and "X% of power use" (for the USA, about a 1:6 factor, if I read http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_in_the_United_States correctly). That 20percentwind.org site, to me, has the former as a goal.
You have it right. 20 % of electricity use means, that on average power is the same 20 %. When it is blowing in large areas, more than 50 % of electric power is produced by wind turbines and when it's not blowing the percentage may be very small. In Portugal the maximum power share wind turbines have had is 75 %, though only 17 % on average is produced by wind.
This creates two problems:
1) You need to have a lot of transmission capacity, which is used very inefficiently. With conventional powerplants you can forecast pretty easily, where and how much electricity is produced and consumed and you can size power grid accordingly (with backup capacities, of course). With wind power the production places and amounts are all the time changeing and you should have plenty of capacity, of which on average only small share is used.
2) To cover the consumption during non-windy times, you need to maintain backup power plants, which should be able to follow load rapidly. Water power is ideal for this, but as penetration level raises you need also other power plants, gas turbines for example (but who wants to maintain a turbine, which is used rarely...). Also batteries may be applied in the future, but in large scale that is nowadays pretty much science fiction.
Interesting point. Of course a wind-powered device cannot extract all of the power of the wind; the power goes more like v^2 times (delta)v, where the delta is basically how effectively the device can slow the wind. Of course, one might expect this term might be proportional to the original windspeed, so it still goes roughly as v^3. For a related analysis, see Betz' Law: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betz_law
This is beautiful and a brilliant, intuitive "100,000 feet up" picture of wind movements.
But it's not horribly useful if you are interested in wind conditions at a particular place. Trying to figure out if a spot is experiencing 15mph wind vs 10mph is hard, for instance.
Compare it to these maps: http://passageweather.com/ which are not pretty nor are they intuitive but they are useful for someone trying to use the map to get detailed, localized wind condition information.
It seems like there should be some kind of middle ground between this wind map and maps like passageweater.com, maps that are intuitive and pretty but also provide detailed, useful information.
they just need to add mouseover details. Rough wind speeds are already indicated by line density, using color would just waste that variable so you couldn't use it for things like pressure. That would be a super cool visualization and again details could be provided by mouseover data.
It would also be cool if you could zoom in. There is definitely a lot of local variation in wind speed/direction that you have to filter out when looking at the entire US but would still be very interesting to see.
There is only a windless spot on earth if you take wind to mean air moving horizontal to the earth's surface. Otherwise imagine that we have wind that points north along the ground, with wind pointing up at the north pole and down at the south pole (and higher up wind comes back south).
I am used to seeing wind markings on aviation maps (e.g. http://www.aviationweather.gov/adds/winds/) but it's pretty cool how much clearer this map is. It makes me wish I could see a much larger portion of the world so I could get a better understanding of the currents that are entering/exiting the US.
been wanting to do this myself for like forever. it looks like they are using high level summary data from the NWS ... they also have this amazing thing called MADIS which focuses on micro climate research (and more) ... so in theory you could get a high resolution version of this for san francisco or nyc, and that'd be really great and possibly rather useful too. I think the Weather Underground is a subscriber of MADIS, and their "rapid update" feature has some of this, and also I should mention some of this is collected by ham radio people in their spare time too.
This is beautiful, but I find it lacking because of the focus on the US mainland exclusively. It would be nice to see North America as a whole along with a good part of the Pacific and Atlantic, because these areas have a massive effect on wind patterns.
For example, the wind over the Chicago is travelling "backwards" for no apparent reason. This is most likely due to this being the "backward half" of a cyclonic system centred over Canada.
The other thing that struck me is the effect the Southwest desert has on wind patterns over all... just, wow.
This would be even cooler if you could display wind speeds at different elevations above the ground. I am guessing that at a certain elevation you have higher winds that kites might be able to capture energy from.
or tie it in with the ocean viz from nasa from the other day! unfortunately most of the data i could find for canada was only in the south, and the mexico data was similarly in only the more densely populated areas.
It's also neat because you can tell where the mountains are. They're the sections where the wind was pretty slow, and then it speeds up and then slows down again. You can see it over the Rocky Mountains.
This. The site should clearly state whether they're showing 1000ft prevailing winds, jetstream-level currents (around 30,000 feet) or more surface-level effects. All the people talking about power generation from this data should be aware that the only wind that matters there is below 1,000 ft (in many cases, far below 1,000 ft.)
its been said by others but this is an incredible visualization of a massive amount of data in a beautiful and intuitive medium. it'll be interesting to have this for other large datasets eg. real time web usage...