Following up on the recent NASA announcement in which the space agency had produced a map of the best possible offshore wind farms, Nature today ran the results of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California which (and see if you can guess what’s coming) has also produced a wind map, one of which is pictured.
Originally published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, the project’s lead, Timothy Liu, used 8 years worth data from a space-based radar called a scatterometer to create the map. Dr Liu believes that 500–800 watts of energy per square metre could be achieved in the highest wind areas. But, as per Nature’s piece, ‘even with perfect turbines, only 60% of that could be recovered. And given how far apart turbines need to be, realistic numbers would be much lower still.’
More from Nature:
The radar measures the scatter in microwaves bouncing off the sea into orbit; the wave motion measured indicates wind speed. The image shows wind-power density in December, January and February; during June, July and August the density becomes greatest in the high latitudes of the Southern Hemisphere.
Timothy Liu says that Europe’s wind power capacity is estimated to swell from 56.5 gigawatts now to up to 40 gigawatts offshore by 2020. The United States is far behind, but projects in Delaware and Massachusetts are finally moving ahead.