Students at Stanford University have discovered that placing wind turbines off shorelines can reduce a hurricane’s wind surface speed by up to 80 percent. The study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, reports that these turbines can both protect coastal areas in times of bad weather and be a significant source of renewable energy.
To slow the onslaught of a hurricane’s winds by up to 93 MPH, offshore turbines must produce at least 300 gigawatts of electricity. Using a computer simulator, students calculated that Hurricane Sandy’s strength could have been notched down by as much as 34 percent. That would have had a notable impact on the $80 billion in storm damages incurred on the East Coast.
The findings have been met with skepticism, because up to 400,000 wind turbines would be required to produce the necessary 300 gigawatts. But researchers point out that fewer turbines could still be used to diminish the impact of strong winds, and therefore waves, caused by hurricanes in vulnerable coastal areas.