October 11, 2017 Read More →

Report: Offshore Wind Can Produce ‘Civilization-Scale Power’

Science Magazine:

Floating wind turbines at sea could create up to three times as much electricity as turbines on land, increasing the energy potential for a technology that has yet to be proven at scale, a new study suggests.

Scientists at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Palo Alto, California, wanted to know whether turbines installed in the open ocean—where air currents are 70% stronger than on land—would also face wind shadow problems. So they conducted virtual experiments using a climate model, and in today’s issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences atmospheric scientist Anna Possner and climatologist Ken Caldiera report that turbines placed in the North Atlantic could produce three times as much power as an existing wind farm in Kansas of similar size.

Driving this greater potential are wintertime low-pressure systems, which occur more frequently at sea than land. They efficiently mix energy from fast, upper level winds down to the surface of the ocean, speeding surface winds.  That means offshore wind turbines in close proximity would still encounter each other’s wind shadow, the authors write, but the wind speed would recover because of the replenished energy, allowing for sustained high power.

The authors say their findings should spur companies to try to overcome those obstacles, however, estimating that offshore wind farms in the North Atlantic alone “could potentially provide civilization-scale power.”

More: Offshore wind farms have powerful advantage over land-based turbines, study finds

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