Floating Wind Turbines on the High Seas


Norwegian oil and gas giant Statoil positions 6-megawatt turbines off the coast of Scotland for the world’s first floating wind farm. Photo: Roar Lindefjeld/Woldcam/Statoil

The world’s first wind farm employing floating turbines is taking shape 25 kilometers off the Scottish coast and expected to begin operating by the end of this year. New research by atmospheric scientists at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Stanford, Calif. suggests that the ultimate destination for such floating wind farms could be hundreds of kilometers out in the open ocean. The simulations, published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, show that winds over the open ocean have far greater staying power than those over land.

Wind power generation is obviously contingent on how fast and how often winds blow. But only over the past decade have scientists and wind farm developers recognized that the winds measured prior to erecting turbines may not endure. For one thing, dense arrays of wind turbines act as a drag on the wind, depleting local or even regional wind resources. Continue reading


Pushing Geoengineering Out of the Closet

geoengineering-options-diagram-source-east-anglia-universityWhen Time Magazine included geoengineering in its “What’s Next for 2008” report it wrote that, “a few scientists are beginning to quietly raise the possibility of cooling the planet’s fever directly…as an option of last resort.” Today scientists at the University of East Anglia (UEA) are definitively smashing the hush surrounding geoengineering, publishing the first comprehensive assessment of the climate cooling potential of the various schemes being contemplated to re-engineer Earth.

“The realisation that existing efforts to mitigate the effects of human-induced climate change are proving wholly ineffectual has fuelled a resurgence of interest in geo-engineering,” explains UEA Environmental Sciences professor Tim Lenton, who wrote the report with UEA colleague Naomi Vaughan. Their report in today’s issue of the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics Discussions shows that the benefits of some schemes have been exaggerated in the past by “significant” errors in calculations, but the best will likely play a constributing role in blunting climate change:

“We found that some geoengineering options could usefully complement mitigation, and together they could cool the climate, but geoengineering alone cannot solve the climate problem.”

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