The results published in ‘Nature Climate Change’ demonstrate that a army of offshore wind turbines could reduce hurricane wind speed, wave height and flooding caused by storms.
“Small turbines can beat the monster,” said Cristina Archer, co-author of the study and associate professor at the University of Delaware professor.
Professor Archer and Mark Jacobson of Stanford University calculated the global potential of wind energy, taking into account that if the turbines generate electricity, they are also able to ‘siphon’ energy atmosphere. They also found that there was enough wind to support energy demand in the world with a negligible effect on the global climate.
In this new study, researchers looked at how the suction wind turbines could affect hurricanes. Unlike normal weather conditions that define the global long-term climate, hurricanes are isolated events unusual, behaving very differently. The authors hypothesized that the hurricane could be more affected by the wind as the winds called normal.
With climate models, the researchers simulated hurricane ‘Katrina’, ‘Isaac’ and ‘Sandy’ and (they) examined what would happen if a large wind farm with tens of thousands of turbines, had been placed on their way.
They found that as the hurricane approached, the wind farm could eliminate energy located in the periphery and thus slow the violent gusts of wind. Driving wind speeds were then led gradually to the inside of the eye of the storm. “There is a feedback in the hurricane that is really fascinating to look at,” said Professor Archer, expert in both meteorology and engineering. The largest decreases in wind speeds were up 87 mph (140 km / h) for Hurricane Sandy and 92 mph (148 km / h) for Hurricane Katrina.
According to numerical models, speeds and reduced winds could in turn reduce the wave height, lower the intensity gusts pushing inexorably waves towards the coast. The wind farm would have lowered the waves of the storm – one of the main causes of flooding by storm – up to 34% and 79% for Sandy Katrina.
Although wind farms would not have the ability to completely dissipate the hurricane winds mean force however prevent the turbines be damaged. These are designed to rotate at a certain wind speed, beyond which the blades and lock lie in a safety position. The study showed that wind farms could slow the wind speed without reaching this threshold.
The study suggests that offshore wind farms have two major roles to do: prevent serious damage to cities during hurricanes and produce renewable energy throughout the year, and this whatever the weather. The offshore wind farms thus constitute an alternative protection dikes, which (they) do not produce energy.
The researchers used their work large wind farms with tens of thousands of turbines. “This is a paradigm shift,” said Professor Kempton UD. “We usually think (wrongly) that hurricanes and wind are incompatible. But we find that in large ensembles, wind turbines have some ability to protect themselves and to protect the coastal areas of strongest winds.”
“It’s a totally different way of thinking about the interaction between the atmosphere and the wind,” said Professor Archer. “We could take advantage of these interactions to protect coastal areas.”