Major investment in offshore turbines could tame hurricanes — study

Source: Peter Green, Wall Street Journal • Posted: Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Coastal cities in the United States could avoid the worst impacts of many hurricanes by installing hundreds of thousands of massive wind turbines offshore, according to a study by researchers at Stanford University and the University of Delaware.

The scientists say the windmills would suck the energy out of storms and pay for themselves with clean electrical power. By harnessing wind from hurricanes, the turbines will break the feedback loop that allows the storms to grow stronger, the scientists contend.

To produce the desired effect would cost $77 billion a year over 35 years, for a total of $2.7 trillion — far more than world governments have ever spent on wind energy. The investment could produce 20 percent of U.S. electricity by 2050.

“The alternative is sea walls, which could cost $30 billion for one city alone,” said Mark Jacobson, a professor at Stanford University and a co-author of the study. “But sea walls don’t reduce storm surge, they don’t reduce wind speed, and they don’t pay for themselves” (Peter Green, Wall Street Journal, Sept. 28)