Wind Farms in the Atlantic Can Generate Enough Power for the Whole Planet

Scientists indicate that wind farms in the Atlantic are so powerful that they could fuel the entire planet. The study relies on the analysis of the American Midwest also known as the ‘Saudi Arabia of wind’. This area has mighty winds which blow over the plains. However, a new study indicates that the North Atlantic can provide even greater support when it comes to the development of wind energy.

In some areas of the North Atlantic, wind farms might be so powerful that they could produce three times as much energy as land-based sites do. The new study proves that the key relies on the particularities of weather patterns present over the ocean. The study also examined the smallest wind farm. What they discovered was astounding. The 70,000 square kilometers floating wind farm could provide energy for the whole America for 10 months per year.

Hence, the study concluded that the winds in the North Atlantic could power the wind farms, triggering them to produce enough energy for the entire human civilization. However, there is one condition. We should use this energy economically. Ken Caldeira is a climate researcher at the Carnegie Institution for Science in California and one of the authors of the study. He indicates that even if this might be difficult to obtain, in case they manage to use the wind farms to produce energy for the entire planet, they will be heroes.

The winds over the Atlantic ocean are more powerful than on land

Furthermore, another challenging side of this study is to make the technology cheap enough in order for everyone to use it. The fixed-bottom wind turbines which appear offshore are built on foundations created on the seafloor. Hence, this limits the area where these wind farms can be developed. At the moment, scientists’ new idea is to move the wind turbines farther out into the open ocean by letting them float.

Therefore, scientists are about to make an extraordinary breakthrough, building the first floating wind farm in late 2017. The commercial production will start off the coast of Scotland. The project called Hywind intends to provide electricity for more than 20,000 households. The trick is to let the turbines float at 25 kilometers from the shore.

By developing floating deepwater wind turbines, they would generate a lot more energy since the individual turbines would not interfere with each other as they do on land. Anna Possner is the lead author of the paper. Wind farms produce great drag which establishes an upper limit of two watts per square kilometer when it comes to a land-based wind farm.

However, wind speed can rapidly recover over the North Atlantic. The new study was published on October 9 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Possner explains that specialists would extract kinetic energy from near the surface of the wind farms. In the meantime, the upper-level wind can replenish the energy.

Wind turbine installed on the ocean

Even if this might seem the best solution, wind farms in the Atlantic would be really expensive.

Wind turbines over the sea represent a great potential

However, scientists still have to determine how to cope with the engineering challenges that will appear when building a massive, floating wind farm located several miles from the whore. Somehow, this will compete with cheaper forms of energy such as natural gas. Nevertheless, experts would need to lay transmission cables across massive distances of the ocean floor. Furthermore, these cables also need to rise to meet the floating turbine.

Specialists claim that if these cables may damage, it will be difficult for them to fix them. Therefore, this might make the new technology very expensive. Even if the wind energy potential of oceans is very powerful, we still need to find a way to develop this energy for a smaller price. Otherwise, this will continue to be an alternative energy while most of the people would continue to use natural gas-powered energy.

Using green energy will help us diminish the level of greenhouse gases and pollution. However, if this source of energy would prove to be too expensive, then it will be hard to implement it for the whole planet. The harder part would be the maintenance process for every floating wind turbine. Setting aside the powerful ocean currents and waves, we should also consider the marine creatures. They may get caught up in the transmission cables across the ocean floor.

Wind farms in the Atlantic could power the world

They will not only harm themselves but also the wind turbines. Scientists emphasize the fact that floating wind farms in the Atlantic represent a great potential. Furthermore, they reinforce the fact that they could be the following major step in wind technology. The study highlights the existence of an upper limit for the amount of electricity which can be triggered by an on-land wind farm.

Scientists argue that this limit might arise due to human and natural structures on land which develop friction. This friction appears to slow down the speed of the wind. Caldeira explains that if each turbine were to remove half the energy flowing through it, by the time we get to the second row of turbines, we would obtain just a quarter of the energy.

When it comes to wind farms in the Atlantic, everything changes. The speed of the winds can be 70% higher compared to those on land. However, the new study unveiled that storms can transfer powerful wind energy from high altitudes down to the surface. Therefore, the upper limit for how much energy may be captured with turbines can be higher.

Caldeira argues that the wind turbine on land only scrap the kinetic energy from the lowest part of the atmosphere. However, over the ocean, the turbines collect the kinetic energy from the troposphere. Scientists compared a theoretical wind farm of 2 million square kilometers situated either over the US in the North Atlantic. They revealed that the on-land wind turbines would not be sufficient to power China and the U.S.

Summing up

The new study indicates that the North Atlantic and the potential wind turbines there would be able to power both China and the U.S. Moreover, the energy which can be extracted over the ocean can be three times higher. The research shows that specialists would need to install 3 million square kilometers of wind farms in the Atlantic to fulfill the worldwide power needs.

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William E. Eubanks
 

I'm one of the main writers on the site; mostly dealing with environmental news and ways to live green. My goal is to educate others about this great planet, and the ways we can help to protect it.

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