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Study shows North Atlantic wind farms could power the whole world
12 October 2017, 12:36 | Darrell Baldwin
Study says a deep-sea wind farm the size of India is sufficient to fulfill world's power needs
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. In doing so, they established that the speed of the wind over the open ocean is some 70 percent higher than that on land.
Wind turbines continuously remove kinetic energy from the lower troposphere, thereby reducing the wind speed near hub height.
Another big catch for wind power over large swaths of the ocean is that we would need to learn how to maintain and install the turbines in extreme ocean environments. The research concludes that some offshore farms generate at least three times more power than the ones 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.
Which raises the question, would wind farms over the ocean suffer these same constraints or would the atmosphere be able to move more energy downward over the ocean?
By focusing on the North Atlantic, Possner and Caldeira found that the drag introduced by wind turbines would not slow winds down as much as they do on land, due largely to the tremendous amounts of heat pouring out of the North Atlantic Ocean into the upper atmosphere - especially during the winter.
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".
However, this tremendous wind power is very seasonal.
Wind power production in the deep waters of the open ocean is in its infancy of commercialization. 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.
The study is a "green light" for operators to invest in suitable open ocean technology like floating turbines, said Caldeira, who claimed the main challenge to commercially successful open ocean farms is the low cost of oil and gas.
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