Computer simulations showed that wind turbines in the North Atlantic would be able to generate at least four times more energy per square metre than their counterparts on land.
In a statement to HuffPost UK, Emma Pinchbeck, RenewableUK's Executive Director said: "The UK is the world leader in offshore wind and we have just built the first floating wind farm off the coast of Scotland". Meaning they can only extract as much energy comes down to the level of the wind turbine from the upper levels of the atmosphere. For the regions the researchers looked at specifically, the wind speed rates were on average 70 percent higher than the wind speed rates on land were. "The rate of electricity generation in large wind farms containing multiple wind arrays is, therefore, constrained by the rate of kinetic energy replenishment from the atmosphere above", says the abstract of the article.
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But that drops significantly in the summer - in this climate, the wind farm wouldn't even generate enough power for the entirety of Europe. According to new research from Carnegie's Anna Possner and Ken Caldeira, there is considerable opportunity for generating wind power in the open ocean, and particularly the North Atlantic.
The pair set to work using modelling tools to compare the energy generation of a theoretical open-ocean wind farm with a wind farm in Kansas. This limit occurs, because on land many natural and human structures are present which creates friction and this eventually slows down the wind speed.
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"The question was, is there something about the atmosphere or the ocean that allows it to bring down more wind energy to wind farms?"
Interestingly, their research found that the tremendous amount of energy generated in their models was incredibly seasonal. "In the winter, North Atlantic wind farms could provide sufficient energy to meet all of civilisation's current needs", said the report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. That means, on an annual mean basis, the wind power available in the North Atlantic could be sufficient to power the world. 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.
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According to the researchers, the huge wind power resources identified in the study can provide strong incentives to develop lower-cost technologies that can operate in the open-ocean environment and transmit the electricity to land.