Member Highlight: Offshore Wind Farms Could Protect Coastlines

2019-08-22T16:52:35+00:00 October 1, 2018|

Offshore wind farms may have a greater capacity for coastal protection than first imagined. Scientists had shown previously that arrays of turbines placed in the sea may buffer storm surge and flooding. Now simulations featuring data from Hurricane Harvey suggest that smart wind farm designs have the capacity to protect coastlines from heavy rains.

(From Physics World/ By James Tyrrell) — The researchers, based at the University of Delaware, US, considered six hypothetical wind farm arrays along the coasts of Texas and Louisiana, comparing outputs from the model to a control case where no turbines were deployed. The arrays differed in their turbine size, spacing and site location, among other factors.

The team knew from earlier studies that winds slow down in the vicinity of offshore turbine arrays. “You can picture a scene where moisture is ‘squeezed out’ of the hurricane upstream of hitting land as winds converge at the offshore site,” says Cristina Archer. “But there’s also a second effect that occurs downstream of the farm where winds pick up again, which causes the storm winds to diverge, further reducing precipitation.”

It was important in this first step of the research to confirm this behaviour so that researchers and planners can dig deeper into future designs. Ideas on the table include adjustable turbine blades that could lengthen or shorten depending on whether the objective is energy extraction or storm protection. There’s also more to discover regarding…

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