Open-ocean wind farms

Pablo Tucker
October 10, 2017

They efficiently mix energy from fast, upper level winds down to the surface of the ocean, speeding surface winds. "That heat creates contrasts in temperatures... which brings more wind energy down to the surface where the wind turbines are".

"In the winter, North Atlantic wind farms could provide sufficient energy to meet all of civilization's current needs", claims the report, produced by atmospheric scientist Anna Possner and climatologist Ken Caldiera, published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The study found that such a enormous wind farm could capitalize on low-pressure systems throughout the winter which more efficiently combine the upper atmospheric winds with the surface level winds, producing greater yields in wind farm power generation potential. The catch is that we would need to put ugly wind turbines all along the coast over huge areas of the sea.

According to a new study from the Carnegie Institute for Science in Palo Alto, California, open-ocean wind farms could be three times more effective than land-based ones as they avoid the problem of "wind shadow", which is when the turbines' spinning blades create drag and slow the air. "Will sticking giant wind farms out there just slow down the winds so much that it is no better than over land?" The authors point to other research which has concluded that the maximum rate of electricity generation for land-based wind farms is limited by the rate at which the energy is moved down towards the ground from high up in the atmosphere.

"We found that giant ocean-based wind farms are able to tap into the energy of the winds throughout much of the atmosphere, whereas wind farms onshore remain constrained by the near-surface wind resources", Possner explained. The authors identified the North Atlantic as a region where annual electricity generation rates could average more than 6 watts per square meter, despite seasonal fluctuations. Still, a wind turbine will have to face very harsh conditions of the sea which are also home to one of the most corrosive environments.

"In the summer such wind farms could merely generate enough power to cover the electricity demand of Europe, or possibly the United States alone". Rather, Possner and Caldeira set out to investigate the potential of open ocean, deep water wind farms - focusing primarily on the North Atlantic Ocean.

Other reports by iNewsToday