They explain that wind speeds are an average 70 percent greater over the Earth's oceans than on land.
Finally, wind turbines need to be created to withstand high wind speeds.
The study found that such a very big wind farm could capitalize on low-pressure systems throughout the winter which more efficiently combine the upper atmospheric winds with the surface level winds, producing greater yields in wind farm power generation potential. A deep-sea wind farm would have to operate in remote and harsh conditions where waves frequently exceed three metres, according to the researchers.
Other studies have estimated that there is a maximum rate of electricity generation for land-based wind farms, and have concluded that this maximum rate of energy extraction is limited by the rate at which energy is moved down from faster, higher up winds.
The study used computer models which compared the total output of huge onshore wind farms in Kansas with the potential output of an equivalent-sized wind farm floating in the Atlantic ocean. This presents an enticing opportunity for generating renewable energy through wind turbines.
Which raises the question, would wind farms over the ocean suffer these same constraints or would the atmosphere be able to move more energy downward over the ocean?
Carnegie Institution for Science researchers Anna Possner and Ken Caldeira set out to determine the potential for offshore wind energy on the open ocean and found that in one scenario, open ocean-based offshore wind farms could generate at least three times more power than large wind farms on land.
In the North Atlantic, in particular, the drag introduced by wind turbines would not slow down winds as much as they would on land. "The rate of electricity generation in large wind farms containing multiple wind arrays is, therefore, constrained by the rate of kinetic energy replenishment from the atmosphere above", says the abstract of the article. This heats air and causes it to rise, which leads to low pressure cyclones that force the efficient transfer of kinetic energy from the upper atmosphere to the surface of the ocean.
The study is a "green light" for operators to invest in suitable open ocean technology like floating turbines, said Caldeira, who claimed the main challenge to commercially successful open ocean farms is the low cost of oil and gas.