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.
Well new research from Carnegie's Anna Possner and Ken Caldeira suggests that this could in fact be possible and it's all thanks to wind.
But extracting efficient energy from wind involves more than putting turbines in the path of gale-force winds. The energy that turbines tap into starts as faster winds at higher altitudes, which are brought down towards the surface.
It was found that in some areas ocean-based windfarms could generate at least three times more power than the land-based facilities. As Caldeira puts it: "Will sticking giant wind farms out there just slow down the winds so much that it is no better than over land?" In doing so, they established that the speed of the wind over the open ocean is some 70 percent higher than that on land.
The collaborators used a climate model to compare the output of a real-life Kansas-based wind farm with a same-size theoretical one, which is located on the North Atlantic ocean.
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Conventionally, wind turbines are found on land but a new research has revealed that there is enough potential wind energy moving across the Earth's oceans to power the world.
"Over land, the turbines are just sort of scraping the kinetic energy out of the lowest part of the atmosphere, whereas over the ocean, it's depleting the kinetic energy out of most of the troposphere, or the lower part of the atmosphere", said Caldeira, as The Washington Post reports.
In the North Atlantic, in particular, the drag introduced by wind turbines would not slow down winds as much as they would on land.
"There is something special about some ocean environments and there are places like the North Atlantic where the Gulf Stream and all of its heat is pouring into the atmosphere", said Caldeira. "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", said co-author Anna Possner. Many practical factors will probably make the whole concept more complex, including the lack of technology that can capture ocean-based wind energy at that scale.
Wind power production in the deep waters of the open ocean is in its infancy of commercialization.