New study reveals windfarms in North Atlantic could meet global power demands

New study reveals windfarms in North Atlantic could meet global power demands

New study reveals windfarms in North Atlantic could meet global power demands

Editor's note: This article comes from Carnegie Science. For the regions the researchers looked at specifically, the wind speed rates were on average 70 percent higher than the wind speed rates on land were. 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". But it was unknown whether the faster ocean winds could actually be converted to increased amounts of electricity.

The researchers said that the offshore wind power, however, would vary according to the seasons.

In fact those ocean-based wind farms were able to generate as much as three times more energy than their land-based counterparts. 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. This limit occurs, because on land many natural and human structures are present which creates friction and this eventually slows down the wind speed. Also, open-water wind farms were seen as better able to capture energy that originates high up in the atmosphere and is transported down to the surface, where turbines may extract it.

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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As a result, more energy is drawn from the atmosphere than over land, which helps to combat the problem of turbine drag.

Open ocean sites thousands of kilometres from Europe or North America could hit far higher efficiency than equivalent land installations thanks to strong marine winds and optimal spacing, said the team from the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington DC. 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. 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 Australian political leaders bicker over renewable energy policy, scientists claim the world's entire power needs could be met by a single deep sea wind farm. That means, on an annual mean basis, the wind power available in the North Atlantic could be sufficient to power the world.

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