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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Estimated global ocean wind power potential from QuikSCAT observations, accounting for turbine characteristics and siting


 For the first time, global ocean usable wind power is evaluated for modern offshore turbine characteristics including hub height, usable portion of the wind speed distribution, and siting depth. Mean wind power increases by 30%, 69%, and 73% within the tropics and Northern and Southern Hemisphere extratropics, respectively, between hub heights of 10 m and 100 m. A turbine with a cut-out speed of 25 m s−1 (30 m s−1) within the Northern Hemisphere storm track harvests between 55% (82%) and 85% (>98%) of available power. Within this region, a 2–3 m s−1 change in cut-out speed can result in a 5–7% change in usable power. Eighty meter wind power accumulates at a rate of 20–45 MW km2 m−2 per meter depth increase from the shore to the shelf break. Beyond the shelf break, wind power accumulates at a slower rate (<12 MW km2 m−2 m−1). The combined impact of all three characteristics on available wind power is assessed for three technology tiers: existing, planned, and future innovations. Usable percent of 80 m available global ocean wind power ranges from 0.40% for existing to 2.73% for future envisioned turbine specifications. Offshore wind power production is estimated using three offshore wind turbine power curves, three ocean depth limits and two siting densities. Global offshore wind power is as much as 39 TW (54% of onshore) and is maximized for the smallest and least powerful of the three turbine specifications evaluated.

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