Researchers say ocean winds could power all of human civilization

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There is considerable opportunity for generating wind power in the open ocean, particularly the North Atlantic, according to new research from Carnegie's Anna Possner and Ken Caldeira.

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

"Wind power generation over some ocean areas can exceed power generation on land by a factor of three or more" by leveraging far more atmospheric kinetic energy transported downwards over the oceans than is possible over land.

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Researchers at the Carnegie Institution for Science found that higher wind speeds over the open seas could produce five times as much energy as wind turbines over land. 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 property of open ocean wind means operators could pack turbines closer together and generate more than 6W/mon average, the simulations found.

The study found that such a big wind farm could capitalize on low-pressure systems throughout the winter which more efficiently combine the upper atmospheric winds with the surface level winds, producing greater yields in wind farm power generation potential.

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"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. This is largely due to the fact that large amounts of heat pour out of the North Atlantic Ocean and into the overlying atmosphere, especially during the winter. Several past studies indicate that the rate of electricity generation for large wind farms on land may be limited to approximately 1.5 watts per square meter. Rather, Possner and Caldeira set out to investigate the potential of open ocean, deep water wind farms - focusing primarily on the North Atlantic Ocean. Still, a wind turbine will have to face very harsh conditions of the sea which are also home to one of the most corrosive environments.

The study is a "green light" for operators to invest in suitable open ocean technology like floating turbines, said Caldeira, who claimed the main challenge to commercially successful open ocean farms is the low cost of oil and gas.

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