Huge energy potential in open ocean wind farms: research

By GCR staff0 CommentsA wind farm in the middle of the North Atlantic would be five times as efficient as one onshore and could provide limitless low-priced energy, says a paper published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Conventionally, wind turbines are found on land but a new research has revealed that there is enough potential wind energy moving across the Earth's oceans to power the world.

The research was supported by the Fund for Innovative Climate and Energy Research and an Carnegie Institution for Science endowment. Even then, could the turbines themselves slow down the windspeeds and reduce it to that of land-based energy turbines?

Possner and Caldeira used a range of modelling tools to compare the productivity of large windfarms in Kansas, in comparison to the upscaled, theoretical open-ocean windfarms. The authors point to other research which has concluded that the maximum rate of electricity generation for land-based wind farms is limited by the rate at which the energy is moved down towards the ground from high up in the atmosphere. What they found is that certain parts of the open ocean provide "considerably higher power generation rates".

The researchers said that ocean surface wind speeds are on average, 70% higher than land and this could prove to be a viable source for wind energy technologies.

Recent studies show that land-based wind farms will only provide 1.5 watts of power per square meter, not 7 watts as previously estimated.

Land-based wind farms have an upper threshold in the amount of energy that can be converted into electricity due to the combined drag of the spinning blades. One of the reasons behind this, according to the researchers, is the unobstructed flow of the winds. 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. 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. But there is no such friction or dilution of wind over the ocean because there are no obstacles and this could make a huge difference. Should humans put wind turbines on oceans? As always, feel free to sound off in the comments section below if you have any thoughts!