Open-ocean wind farms

A deep-sea wind farm of the size of India can solve world's power problems. Land-based turbines themselves slow the air reducing the amount of energy subsequent rows of turbines can generate. In order to generate the equivalent of all energy used today, a deep-sea wind farm would need to span three million square kilometers. The scientists also note that storms over the mid-latitude oceans regularly transfer wind energy down to the surface from high altitudes making a much higher upper limit on how much energy wind turbines can capture than on land.

Writing in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, doctors Anna Possner and Ken Caldeira concluded: "On an annual mean basis, the wind power available in the North Atlantic could be sufficient to power the world".

Experts say this is because the wind speed is 70% higher in the sea than on land. "However, it remains unclear whether these open ocean wind speeds are higher because of lack of surface drag or whether a greater downward transport of kinetic energy may be sustained in open ocean environments".

Charlie Zender, a physicist at the University of California, praised the theoretical potential of the research but said the "relevance to energy policy is low" citing the extremely high construction, operation and maintenance costs of building floating wind farms which would be further compounded by the density of turbines required in the research.

North Atlantic winds tap into a huge reservoir of energy created by heat pouring into the atmosphere from the ocean surface. Several past studies indicate that the rate of electricity generation for large wind farms on land may be limited to approximately 1.5 watts per square meter.

Wind farms in the open ocean can generate far more renewable energy than those on land, possibly enough to power the whole world, said a United States study on Monday.

A new research paper boldly suggests that one monumental floating wind farm in the north Atlantic could theoretically power our entire civilization.

A giant wind farm in the North Atlantic would have to operate in "remote and harsh conditions" with wave heights frequently exceeding three metres (9.8ft), the researchers said.



Other news