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10 October 2017, 08:25 | Justin Tyler
Charlie Zender, a physicist at the University of California, praised the theoretical potential of the research but said the "relevance to energy policy is low" citing the extremely high construction, operation and maintenance costs of building floating wind farms which would be further compounded by the density of turbines required in the research.
Construction of such a renewable energy project is most likely to face many significant hurdles as it would require some serious funding and global cooperation.
"Wind speeds over open ocean areas are often higher than those in the windiest areas over land, which has motivated a quest to develop technologies that could harvest wind energy in deep water environments". The problem is that turbines deplete the strength of winds downstream from them, creating a phenomenon called "wind shadow" that has proven a bigger issue than predicted. "Will sticking giant wind farms out there just slow down the winds so much that it is no better than over land?"
As a result, more energy is transported down from high in the atmosphere than occurs over land, which helps overcome the impact of turbine drag.
A study suggests that wind farms in open ocean environments may be able to sustain higher electricity generation rates than wind farms on land.
"The real question is can the atmosphere over the ocean move more energy downward than the atmosphere over land is able to?" Scientists have calculated that if the wind farm is built on 3 million square kilometers in the ocean, it will generate approximately as much energy as the entire world consumes, writes Independent. This contrast in surface warming along the USA coast drives the frequent generation of cyclones, or low-pressure systems, that cross the Atlantic and are very efficient in drawing the upper atmosphere's energy down to the height of the turbines.
North Atlantic winds tap into a huge reservoir of energy created by heat pouring into the atmosphere from the ocean surface.
The new study comes at a time of reckoning for terrestrial wind power.
"In the winter, North Atlantic wind farms could provide sufficient energy to meet all of civilization's current needs", said the report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Rather, Possner and Caldeira set out to investigate the potential of open ocean, deep water wind farms - focusing primarily on the North Atlantic Ocean.
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