The energy needs of the entire human population could potentially be met by converting wind energy to electricity by means of wind turbines
While offshore wind power resources are abundant, wind turbines are currently unable to provide steady power due to natural fluctuations in wind direction and strength.
However, offshore wind power output can be made more consistent by choosing project development locations that take advantage of regional weather patterns and by connecting wind power generators with a shared power line, according to a paper by researchers from the University of Delaware and Stony Brook University that is published in the April 5 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
"Making wind-generated electricity more steady will enable wind power to become a much larger fraction of our electric sources," said the paper's lead author Willett Kempton, UD professor of marine policy in UD's College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment and director of its Center for Carbon-free Power Integration.
The research team - which also included UD alumnus Felipe Pimenta, UD research faculty member Dana Veron, and Brian Colle, associate professor in the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at Stony Brook University - demonstrated that thoughtful design of offshore wind power projects can minimize the impacts of local weather on power fluctuations.
The researchers analyzed five years of wind observations from 11 monitoring stations along the U.S. East Coast from Florida to Maine. Based on wind speeds at each location, they estimated electrical power output from a hypothetical five-megawatt offshore turbine. After analyzing the patterns of wind energy among the stations along the coast, the team explored the seasonal effects on power output.
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