Atlantic wind farms could provide 'civilization-scale power'

Atlantic wind farms could provide 'civilization-scale power'

Possner and Caldeira's modeling tools 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.

In the search for alternative energies, wind turbines have presented as a possible replacement for fossil fuels. Also, open-water wind farms were seen as better able to capture energy that originates high up in the atmosphere and is transported down to the surface, where turbines may extract it.

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Finally, wind turbines need to be created to withstand high wind speeds. It suggests that floating wind farms and other similar ocean-based setups could be the next innovation in wind energy. By removing kinetic energy from wind, turbines reduce wind speed, constraining the rate of electricity generation in wind farms. 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.

The two authors of the study Anna Possnera and Ken Caldeira, from the Carnegie Institution for Science in Stanford, California, said that the new research is a kind of green light for the wind energy industry from a geophysical point of view. The team claimed farms spread over approximately 3,000,000km- bigger than Argentina but a tiny fraction of the 107,000,000km Atlantic Ocean - could theoretically generate 18TW (terawatts), which they said is equivalent to total global energy demand. Land-based turbines themselves slow the air reducing the amount of energy subsequent rows of turbines can generate.

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The study found that such a enormous 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 real question is can the atmosphere over the ocean move more energy downward than the atmosphere over land is able to?" 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.

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"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.

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