Huge Energy Potential in Open Ocean Wind Farms in the North Atlantic

Wind speeds are on average 70% higher over the Earth's oceans than over the land – but it's not quite that simple

The study found that such a very 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.

New research from the Carnegie Institution for Science has highlighted the "considerable opportunity" of developing offshore wind in the open ocean, which could generate up to three to five times as much energy as wind farms on land. In order to generate the equivalent of all energy used today, a deep-sea wind farm would need to span three million square kilometers.

Computer simulations showed that wind turbines in the North Atlantic would be able to generate at least four times more energy per square metre than their counterparts 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 co-author Anna Possner. The researchers concluded that even if they built a farm so large to cover the entire lands of central USA, it wouldn't reach the enough amount of energy the United States and China need - which is around seven terawatts annually, understanding that a terawatt is equivalent to a trillion watts.

It is unknown if the winds in the ocean could work to convert and increase the amounts of electricity.

The researchers assured that when there's a storm in the ocean, the winds in the higher altitudes pass through the mid altitudes and transfer powerful energy to the winds on the surface. 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. The researchers predict that annual electricity-generation rates in the North Atlantic ocean could hit more than 6 watts per square meter. 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.

Even then, enough electricity would be produced to meet the energy demands of all the countries in the European Union.

Such a project would also have to be politically and economically acceptable.

"Even in the relative calm of summer, the upper geophysical limit on sustained wind power in the North Atlantic alone could be sufficient to supply all of Europe's electricity", the report reads.

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