How Mid-Ocean Wind Farms Could Power The Whole Of Civilisation


Though such a vast engineering project would face huge challenges, it would provide enough sustainable energy to meet the whole planet's electricity needs, scientists say. Furthermore, the simulations suggest that, in certain areas of the ocean, atmospheric circulation patterns over the ocean allow wind farms to tap into the kinetic energy reservoir of the entire overlying troposphere, as opposed to the limited kinetic energy available at the ocean surface, thereby sustaining rates of wind power generation three times higher than those observed on land.

Still, there's an overarching message in the study: Open oceans boast a huge potential for providing the world with an alternative energy source, and while covering all of Earth's oceans with wind turbines is remarkably impossible, it's still promising.

On average, wind speeds are higher over ocean than over land. Researchers published a report this week that claims there is so much wind energy potential over the oceans that it could be used to generate "civilization scale power".

Stanford's Carnegie Institution for Science Department of Global Ecology researchers are behind this new theoretical study. This presents an enticing opportunity for generating renewable energy through wind turbines.

In tapping into wind as an energy source, the United States has for decades lagged behind Europe and United Kingdom, which are home to the largest offshore wind farms in the world, including the London Array and the Netherlands' Gemini wind farm.

"The real question is", Caldeira continued, "can the atmosphere over the ocean move more energy downward than the atmosphere over land is able to?"

In the North Atlantic, in particular, the drag introduced by wind turbines would not slow down winds as much as they would on land, the researchers found. It suggests that floating wind farms and other similar ocean-based setups could be the next innovation in wind energy. 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. This heats air and causes it to rise, which leads to low pressure cyclones that force the efficient transfer of kinetic energy from the upper atmosphere to the surface of the ocean.

"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".