Open Ocean Presents Considerable Opportunity For Offshore Wind Energy Generation

Faith Castro
October 12, 2017

"In the winter, North Atlantic wind farms could provide sufficient energy to meet all of civilisation's current needs", said the report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. According to their results, turbines in the ocean wouldn't drag down the wind speeds as much as those over land would, and in some areas, they could generate three times as much electricity as their land-based counterparts. Several past studies indicate that the rate of electricity generation for large wind farms on land may be limited to approximately 1.5 watts per square meter.

However, it would enable people to access substantial amounts of energy and more effectively than onshore wind turbines. "These wind turbines have a lot of moving parts which need to be maintained", he said.

The study found that such a very big 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 researchers said that the offshore wind power, however, would vary according to the seasons.

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"In the summer such wind farms could merely generate enough power to cover the electricity demand of Europe, or possibly the U.S. alone". This presents an enticing opportunity for generating renewable energy through wind turbines.

Possner and Caldeira's sophisticated modeling tools and compared the productivity of large Kansas wind farms to massive, theoretical open-ocean wind farms and found that in some areas ocean-based wind farms could generate at least three times more power than the ones on land.

"The question was, is there something about the atmosphere or the ocean that allows it to bring down more wind energy to wind farms?"

"Despite the strong seasonally varying geophysical limit imposed by the atmosphere, we still find that even the smallest wind farm considered in this study would generate sufficient electric power to meet the demand of the European Union in 2015 for 10 out of 12 months of the year", the paper says. This heats air and causes it to rise, which leads to low pressure cyclones that force the efficient transfer of kinetic energy from the upper atmosphere to the surface of the ocean. 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.

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