In many ways, wind energy seems an ideal energy source. Fields of mighty turbines spinning in rhythm could harness carbonless power and shuttle it off to homes and industries. But questions remain about the feasibility of wind parks: How much will they cost" Can this unpredictable energy source be relied upon to contribute appreciably to the country's power needs"
A team of Stanford researchers set out to find answers in a recent study of the California coast and will present their research during a Dec. 13 poster session at this year's meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco. The poster is titled ''California Offshore Wind Energy Potential.''
Michael Dvorak, a Stanford doctoral student in civil and environmental engineering, joined Mark Jacobson, professor of civil and environmental engineering, and Cristina Archer, consulting assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, in evaluating the potential for harvesting wind energy offshore in California.
''This is basically the first study that's a detailed look at places where we could develop offshore wind energy in California,'' Dvorak said. ''Some of the studies have looked at the wind speeds offshore, but they hadn't looked at the [water] depth and wind speeds at this high of resolution.''
Deeper water means higher costs for building wind turbines. Not only would it require more materials to reach the bottom and anchor the structures, but, as the water depth increases, so does the power of the waves constantly slamming into the turbine supports, Dvorak said.
Furthermore, most engineering research worldwide has been focused on building turbines in shallow water, like that of the North Sea in Europe, where all of the existing offshore wind parks are. Consequently, most available technology is geared toward building turbines in water less than 20 meters deep. Though wind speeds are usually higher further offshore, the study concluded
|Contact: Louis Bergeron|