Published: Thu, October 12, 2017
Medical | By Rita Mcdonald

Vast and efficient ocean wind farms 'could power human civilisation'

Vast and efficient ocean wind farms 'could power human civilisation'

However, Possner and Caldeira's computer models, which compared the productivity of a large Kansas wind farm to an open-ocean equivalent, suggested that the drag introduced by turbines would not slow down winds as much as they do on land.

Wind, particularly in the North Atlantic is very seasonal and while in the winter farms could produce enough energy to power all of humanities needs, in summer that energy would be limited to Europe of the US. Wind turbines on wind farms continuously convert kinetic energy from surface winds into electricity. How would humans even develop, install, and maintain ocean-based wind turbines at such a grand scale? 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.

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They explain that wind speeds are an average 70 percent greater over the Earth's oceans than on land. The research article, by Anna Possner and Ken Caldeira, was published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. "Will sticking giant wind farms out there just slow down the winds so much that it is no better than over land?"

"The real question is", Caldeira continued, "can the atmosphere over the ocean move more energy downward than the atmosphere over land is able to?"

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The study found that such a 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. This is the result of a chain of cause and effect originated by the thermal energy contained in the seawater that Atlantic currents transport north during the winter. Rather, Possner and Caldeira set out to investigate the potential of open ocean, deep water wind farms - focusing primarily on the North Atlantic Ocean. 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. Many practical factors will probably make the whole concept more complex, including the lack of technology that can capture ocean-based wind energy at that scale. The researchers predict that annual electricity-generation rates in the North Atlantic ocean could hit more than 6 watts per square meter.

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