Published: Thu, October 12, 2017
Medical | By Carla Vaughn

Researchers Study Huge Potential Of North Atlantic Offshore Wind

Researchers Study Huge Potential Of North Atlantic Offshore Wind

"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", said Dr Possner.

It's an extremely unlikely scenario. For the regions the researchers looked at specifically, the wind speed rates were on average 70 percent higher than the wind speed rates on land were. Also, implementing that kind of energy system could alter the Earth's climate, the research suggests.

Most of the energy captured by large wind farms originate higher up in the atmosphere and is transported down to the surface where the turbines may extract this energy. Land or close-to-shore farms merely "scrape" energy from the lowest level of the atmosphere, said Caldeira; open ocean installations could "tap into the kinetic energy reservoir of the entire overlying troposphere", he claimed.

Stanford's Carnegie Institution for Science Department of Global Ecology researchers are behind this new theoretical study. Anna Possner and Ken Caldeira modeled the electricity generation rates of potential wind farms in open-ocean environments.

As expected, the results showed a significant gap between land-based and sea-based wind energy. This is because there's nearly no topographical variation - meaning oceans have a far more uniform flatness than land - and there are far less obstructions on oceans than on land - meaning there are fewer objects that could interfere with the wind, such as skyscrapers or very big statues.

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In theory, those speeds mean there's five times as much energy blowing around over water than there is over land, but whether that would translate to electricity production gains was another question.

There are hurdles, however.

The heat difference means more air currents flow down to the surface, constantly replenishing the potential wind which can be harvested. Other studies have estimated that there is a maximum rate of electricity generation for land-based wind farms and have concluded that this maximum rate of energy extraction is limited by the rate at which energy is moved down from faster, higher-up winds, according to the researchers. While no commercial-scale deep water wind farms yet exist, our results suggest that such technologies, if they became technically and economically feasible, could potentially provide civilization-scale power.

"In the summer such wind farms could merely generate enough power to cover the electricity demand of Europe, or possibly the U.S. alone".

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