Study shows North Atlantic wind farms could power the whole world

Joy Montgomery
October 12, 2017

Possnera and Caldeira concluded that even in the relative calm of summer, the upper geophysical limit on sustained wind power in the North Atlantic alone could be sufficient to supply all of Europe's electricity. Now researchers from the Carnegie Institute for Science have published research suggesting that offshore wind turbines might be able to create enough energy to provide "civilization-scale power".

They explain that wind speeds are an average 70 percent greater over the Earth's oceans than on land.

Low-pressure systems at sea, which happen during winter, are able to harness energy from both high- and surface-level winds, meaning the turbines can maintain their wind speed and power output, and cope with the effects of other turbines' wind shadows.

It was found that in some areas ocean-based windfarms could generate at least three times more power than the land-based facilities.

According to the research, the majority of energy captured by large wind farms originates high up in the atmosphere and is transported downwards to the surface where the turbines are able to generate the energy from the strong winds.

The pair set to work using modelling tools to compare the energy generation of a theoretical open-ocean wind farm with a wind farm in Kansas.

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The research was supported by the Fund for Innovative Climate and Energy Research and an Carnegie Institution for Science endowment.

As a result, more energy is drawn from the atmosphere than over land, which helps to combat the problem of turbine drag.

In tapping into wind as an energy source, the United States 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. By GCR staff0 CommentsA wind farm in the middle of the North Atlantic would be five times as efficient as one onshore and could provide limitless low-priced energy, says a paper published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

According to their research, wind farms in the North Atlantic could provide sufficient energy to meet the entire planet's needs over winter.

Interestingly, their research found that the tremendous amount of energy generated in their models was incredibly seasonal. 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.

Wind power production in the deep waters of the open ocean is in its infancy of commercialization.

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