Large wind turbine farms situated in the ocean can reduce the damage caused by hurricanes according to research published in the Feb. 26, 2014, edition of Nature Climate Change by Cristina Archer, associate professor in the University of Delaware's College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment, Willett Kempton, professor at the University of Delaware's College of Earth, Ocean and Environment, and Mark Jacobson from Stanford University.
The scientists compared computer modeling of the wind speed and storm surge caused by hurricanes Katrina, Isaac and Sandy with and without the presence of a large wind turbine farm in the path of the hurricanes.
The reduction in wind speed was 87 miles per hour for Hurricane Sandy and 92 miles per hour for Hurricane Katrina. Storm surge damage was reduced by 79 percent for Hurricane Katrina and up to 34 percent for Hurricane Sandy.
The researchers compared the financial feasibility of using large wind turbine arrays as a deterrent to hurricane damage and found that the additional benefit of large wind turbine farms electrical production made them more cost effective than seawalls.
The large wind turbine farms reduce hurricane winds by reducing the energy at the edge of the hurricane. The lessening of wind force is eventually transferred to the center of the hurricane and reduces the speed of the hurricane winds.
Present wind turbine technology allows turbines to shut down to protect themselves from extremely high winds so the potential cost of replacement of wind turbines due to hurricane force wind damage is minimal.