Wind isn't a perfect power source, however. Unlike PV, which operates at basically the same efficiency on a Spanish rooftop as in a mile-square desert array, small wind turbines are less efficient than big ones, so they're not economical for distributed power generation. Turbines tend not to like ice, so wind power isn ' t a great choice for cold climates. Because you never know when the wind will blow, and therefore when wind farms will feed power to the grid, excessive dependence on wind can cause destabilizing fluctuations in the flow of power. Because of its intermittency, wind can ' t supply baseline (continuous) power.
Some partial solutions are on the horizon, though. Having multiple wind farms feeding the same grid lessens the intermittency problem, since the wind might be blowing in one place when it' s quiet in another. Since hot, sunny days tend to be less windy but more favorable for solar, wind and solar farms feeding the same grid can smooth out power fluctuations. And electricity storage technology is improving. One interesting idea involves using surplus wind power to pump water from a low point to a high point. When the wind dies down, the water is allowed to flow back down through a turbine, generating electricity. Such a system would add maybe 25 percent to the cost of a wind farm but might be worth it if it converts intermittent power to baseline. Another possibility is to use cheap, excess wind energy to make hydrogen, which can then generate power as needed. (See Chapter 8 for other energy storage technologies and Chapter 10 for more on hydrogen.)
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