Wind energy is on the up globally with 1000 GW likely to be in place soon. Longer term, if on-land and offshore sites get congested then there is the prospect of using airborne wind-energy devices or tethered kites that operate at high altitude. Wind speed increases with height and one quite cautious study suggested that around 7.5 TW might be available globally. Others have put the total upper atmosphere resource, including jet streams, much higher at 1400 TW. Indeed, there is certainly a lot of energy up there. However, extracting even a small part of it would be very difficult. If significant amounts of energy were somehow obtained then it could have large environmental/climate impacts, for example, on the jet stream that shapes the weather system. No one is currently proposing interventions at that level. But extracting energy from lower down in the atmosphere — perhaps up to about half a kilometre — is possible and would still offer a very large new resource — possibly four times current wind-production capacity.
Physics Wind 11th Dec 2019 read more »