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    Power Consumption and Production

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    In the year 2011, the United States used about 115EJ of energy.

    1. How many large power plants need to operate to meet that need? A large power plant provides about 1000MW.

    2. If each square mile of a wind farm provides 3MW, how many square miles of wind farms would the US need?

    3. How does this compare (use ratios) to the area of North Dakota (a very windy state)?

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    Solution Preview

    1. In one year, the amount of energy a large power plant running continuously produces is

    E_plant = P_plant * T
    = (10^9 J/s)(1 yr)(3.16 * 10^7 s/yr)
    = 3.16 * 10^16 J.

    Thus, the number of large plants needed to ...

    Solution Summary

    We compute the number of power plants needed to power the United States as well as the total area of wind farms necessary to do so.