Wind Farms In The North Atlantic Could Power Up The World?
As rich as the North Atlantic is for wind energy, the team also found that its productivity would vary by the season.
"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. In doing so, they found that the wind currents blowing over the area are capable of generating some 70 percent higher speed than those breezing over land.
Scientists have been wondering just how much power a wind turbine located far offshore could actually produce. How would humans even develop, install, and maintain ocean-based wind turbines at such a grand scale?
A study suggests that wind farms in open ocean environments may be able to sustain higher electricity generation rates than wind farms on land.
In the search for alternative energies, wind turbines have presented as a possible replacement for fossil fuels.
To try and answer that question Possner and Caldeira created complex modelling tools which compared land-based wind farms in Kansas with theoretical wind farms that would be built far out in the ocean.
But extracting efficient energy from wind involves more than putting turbines in the path of gale-force winds.
In tapping into wind as an energy source, the USA has for decades lagged behind Europe and United Kingdom, which are home to the largest offshore wind farms in the world, including the London Array and the Netherlands' Gemini wind farm. Over land, those winds tend to stay up high, but over the ocean - and paticularly over the North Atlantic - surface warming of the seawater brings them down to within reach of the turbines.
"Although 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", they write. This contrast in surface warming along the US coast drives the frequent generation of cyclones or low-pressure systems, that cross the Atlantic and are very efficient in drawing the upper atmosphere's energy down to the height of the turbines. The researchers predict that annual electricity-generation rates in the North Atlantic ocean could hit more than 6 watts per square meter.