Researchers Study Huge Potential Of North Atlantic Offshore Wind


In a statement to HuffPost UK, Emma Pinchbeck, RenewableUK's Executive Director said: "The UK is the world leader in offshore wind and we have just built the first floating wind farm off the coast of Scotland".

The research, published by Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, was conducted by Carnegie's Anna Possner and Ken Caldeira.

But extracting efficient energy from wind involves more than putting turbines in the path of gale-force winds. 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.

The study found that such a big 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 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.

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.

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"The real question is", Caldeira said, "can the atmosphere over the ocean move more energy downward than the atmosphere over land is able to?"

Wind speeds on the ocean can be as much as 70% higher than on land. Land or close-to-shore farms merely "scrape" energy from the lowest level of the atmosphere, said Caldeira; open ocean installations could "tap into the kinetic energy reservoir of the entire overlying troposphere", he claimed.

Interestingly, their research found that the tremendous amount of energy generated in their models was incredibly seasonal.

A new study has found that wind speeds over the oceans could allow offshore turbines to generate far more energy than a land-based wind farm - with the North Atlantic, in particular, theoretically able to provide enough energy for all of human civilization. The researchers predict that annual electricity-generation rates in the North Atlantic ocean could hit more than 6 watts per square meter.

According to the researchers, the huge wind power resources identified in the study can provide strong incentives to develop lower-cost technologies that can operate in the open-ocean environment and transmit the electricity to land.