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12 October 2017, 12:40 | Todd Saunders
MARIE HEUCLIN via Getty Images
On average, wind speeds are higher over ocean than over land. Also, implementing that kind of energy system could alter the Earth's climate, the research suggests. Wind turbines on wind farms continuously convert kinetic energy from surface winds into electricity.
"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", says Anna Possner, co-author of the study.
The two authors of the study Anna Possnera and Ken Caldeira, from the Carnegie Institution for Science in Stanford, California, said that the new research is a kind of green light for the wind energy industry from a geophysical point of view. The study is based on computer models that compared the productivity of large Kansas wind farms to imagined, massive wind farms erected in the open seas. The ocean, on the other hand, has a much higher limit. This is because there's nearly no topographical variation - meaning oceans have a far more uniform flatness than land - and there are far less obstructions on oceans than on land - meaning there are fewer objects that could interfere with the wind, such as skyscrapers or huge statues.
"The real question is", Caldeira continued, "can the atmosphere over the ocean move more energy downward than the atmosphere over land is able to?"
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The report adds that one limiting factor may be wind farms themselves.
According to the research, the majority of energy captured by large wind farms originates high up in the atmosphere and is transported downwards to the surface where the turbines are able to generate the energy from the strong winds. The team claimed farms spread over approximately 3,000,000km- bigger than Argentina but a tiny fraction of the 107,000,000km Atlantic Ocean - could theoretically generate 18TW (terawatts), which they said is equivalent to total global energy demand.
Power generation from a giant North Atlantic wind farm would be seasonal, dropping significantly during the northern hemisphere summer.
Those, however, are merely theoretical estimates and calculations. Although it is a very hard target to achieve and has several environmental consequences, the study seems to be quite interesting and reveals the true capability of wind energy over the ocean. Should humans put wind turbines on oceans?
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