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

A deep-sea wind farm of the size of India can solve world's power problems.

The whole world can be powered by a single offshore wind turbine farm in the North Atlantic, reports actualno.

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. Anna Possner and Ken Caldeira modeled the electricity generation rates of potential wind farms in open-ocean environments.

The study notes that wind energy gathered on land has an upper limit due to how structures on the land, both natural and manmade, can slow wind speeds.

The duo - from the Carnegie Institution for Science at Stanford University, California - pointed out wind speeds are on average 70 per cent higher over the Earth's oceans than over the 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", Possner explained. 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. But recent modeling shows that land turbines probably will provide only 1 watt per square meter when installed at scale. Greater the number of turbines in a farm, lesser the efficiency as the combined drag from the turbines eventually put a cap on the amount of energy which can be extracted. Their simulations show that atmospheric circulation patterns over the ocean could allow wind farms to harness the kinetic energy of the entire troposphere-the lowest layer of the Earth's atmosphere, where most weather occurs-generating three times the power of land wind farms. Despite this, enough energy would still be generated to meet the electricity demands of all countries in the European Union.

A giant wind farm in the North Atlantic would have to operate in "remote and harsh conditions" with wave heights frequently exceeding three metres (9.8ft), the researchers said.

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