Medicine

Huge energy potential in open ocean wind farms: research

Huge energy potential in open ocean wind farms: research

Doctors Anna Possner and Ken Caldeira from the Carnegie Institution for Science at Stanford University pointed out wind speeds over the ocean are on average 70 per cent higher than over land, the Independent reported.

The study notes that wind energy gathered on land has an upper limit due to how structures on the land, both natural and manmade, can slow wind speeds.

However, it would enable people to access substantial amounts of energy and more effectively than onshore wind turbines. Also, it is revealed that floating wind turbines at sea could create up to three times as much electricity as turbines present on land because on the sea the turbines do not face "wind shadow" effect.

Researchers at the Carnegie Institution for Science have discovered something rather remarkable about wind farms - we've apparently been doing it wrong.

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.

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"Over land, the turbines are just sort of scraping the kinetic energy out of the lowest part of the atmosphere, whereas over the ocean, it's depleting the kinetic energy out of most of the troposphere, or the lower part of the atmosphere", said Caldeira, as The Washington Post reports.

If humans could somehow find a way to install wind turbines on open oceans, they would be able to provide the world's entire power needs, according to a new study. 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.

With more turbines added to a wind farm, the combined drag of turning blades puts a cap on the amount of energy from the moving air that can be converted to electric power.

Possner said: "We found that giant ocean-based windfarms are able to tap into the energy of the winds throughout much of the atmosphere, whereas windfarms onshore remain constrained by the near-surface wind resources". It highlights the considerable opportunity for generating wind power in the open ocean, particularly the North Atlantic. The huge wind power resources identified by the Possner and Caldeira study provide strong incentives to develop lower-cost technologies that can operate in the open-ocean environment and transmit this electricity to land where it can be used.