Open Ocean Presents Considerable Opportunity For Offshore Wind Energy Generation

Deep-Sea Wind Farm The Size Of India Could Generate Enough Sustainable Energy To Power The Entire Planet

Deep-Sea Wind Farm The Size Of India Could Generate Enough Sustainable Energy To Power The Entire Planet

At onshore facilities, each turbine weakens the power generation potential of each additional turbine downwind of it in a phenomenon known as a "wind shadow".

According to the authors, if commercial-scale open-ocean wind turbines could be produced, open-ocean wind farms that are spread across approximately 3 million square kilometers could meet the current annual global energy demand of 18 terawatts. But it was unknown whether the faster ocean winds could actually be converted to increased amounts of electricity.

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.

In a paper published Monday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences the researchers, Carnegie's Anna Possner and Ken Caldeira, suggest that wind turbines could get five times more energy that turbines over land can generate. As a result of this effect, electricity generation for large wind farms on land is limited to about 1.5 watts per square meter.

Power generation from a vast North Atlantic wind farm would be seasonal, with output dropping to a fifth of the annual average during the summer, the scientists pointed out.

"The real question is", Caldeira said, "can the atmosphere over the ocean move more energy downward than the atmosphere over land is able to?" This is because when more wind turbines are added to a farm, the combined drag from the turning blades limits the amount of energy that can be obtained.

The reason for this is that North Atlantic winds tap into a huge reservoir of energy created by heat pouring into the atmosphere from the ocean surface. 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.

Wind power production in the deep waters of the open ocean is in its infancy of commercialization.

"Wind speeds over open ocean areas are often higher than those in the windiest areas over land, which has motivated a quest to develop technologies that could harvest wind energy in deep water environments".

Still, a wind turbine will have to face very harsh conditions of the sea which are also home to one of the most corrosive environments.

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