In recent years, a growing body of research argues that the rate of generated power is limited to around 1.5 W m within large wind farms. According to new research from Carnegie's Anna Possner and Ken Caldeira, there is considerable opportunity for generating wind power in the open ocean, and particularly the North Atlantic.
Most of the energy captured by large wind farms originates higher up in the atmosphere and is transported down to the surface where the turbines may extract this energy. In doing so, they established that the speed of the wind over the open ocean is some 70 percent higher than that on land.
The team used computer models to compare the output of existing land-based wind farms in Kansas to huge, theoretical facilities out in the open ocean. "Will sticking giant wind farms out there just slow down the winds so much that it is no better than over land?"
In theory, those speeds mean there's five times as much energy blowing around over water than there is over land, but whether that would translate to electricity production gains was another question.More news: Joel Embiid gets $148 million rookie max contract extension
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Power generation from a giant North Atlantic wind farm would be seasonal, dropping significantly during the northern hemisphere summer.
"There is something special about some ocean environments and there are places like the North Atlantic where the Gulf Stream and all of its heat is pouring into the atmosphere", said Caldeira. This contrast in surface warming along the USA 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.
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. "The rate of electricity generation in large wind farms containing multiple wind arrays is, therefore, constrained by the rate of kinetic energy replenishment from the atmosphere above", says the abstract of the article. Although it is a very hard target to achieve and has several environmental consequences, the study seems to be quite interesting and reveals the true capability of wind energy over the ocean.
While open water wind turbines are still very much in their infancy, there is hope that this research will provide strong incentives for companies to start developing the technology at a faster rate.