Friday, 20 October, 2017

How Mid-Ocean Wind Farms Could Power The Whole Of Civilisation

MARIE HEUCLIN via Getty Images MARIE HEUCLIN via Getty Images
Steve Phelps | 12 October, 2017, 00:37

The team claimed farms spread over approximately 3,000,000km- bigger than Argentina but a tiny fraction of the 107,000,000km Atlantic Ocean - could theoretically generate 18TW (terawatts), which they said is equivalent to total global energy demand. As Caldeira puts it: "Will sticking giant wind farms out there just slow down the winds so much that it is no better than over land?"

Low-pressure systems at sea, which happen during winter, are able to harness energy from both high- and surface-level winds, meaning the turbines can maintain their wind speed and power output, and cope with the effects of other turbines' wind shadows. It was published in PNAS by Anna Possner, a researcher from the Carnegie Institute; along with Ken Caldeira, from Stanford University's Carnegie Institution for Science.

But that drops significantly in the summer - in this climate, the wind farm wouldn't even generate enough power for the entirety of Europe.

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. Because of this, a team of researchers set out and established that wind farms located in the North Atlantic might actually be capable of powering the entire planet.

In the North Atlantic, in particular, the drag introduced by wind turbines would not slow down winds as much as they would on land.

"We found that giant ocean-based wind farms are able to tap into the energy of the winds throughout much of the atmosphere, whereas wind farms onshore remain constrained by the near-surface wind resources", said Possner. This heats air and causes it to rise, which leads to low pressure cyclones that force the efficient transfer of kinetic energy from the upper atmosphere to the surface of the ocean. 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.

Deep sea wind farms in North Atlantic have potential to generate enough clean electricity which could possibly meet the power requirements of the whole world, according to a new study. The authors identified the North Atlantic as a region where annual electricity generation rates could average more than 6 watts per square meter, despite seasonal fluctuations.

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.

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