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Offshore wind farms could help capture carbon from air and store it long-term, saving money – a geophysicist explains how
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Offshore wind farms could help capture carbon from air and store it long-term, saving money – a geophysicist explains how

Map of coasts showing lease areas offshore


Off the Massachusetts and New York coasts, developers are preparing to build the United States’ First federally-approved Utility-scale offshore wind farm – 74 turbines in all that could power 470,000 homes. There are more than a dozen offshore wind projects. Waiting for approvalAlong the Eastern Seaboard.

By 2030, the Biden administration’s goal is to have 30 gigawatts of offshore wind powerProviding enough power to power more that 10 million homes.

Replacing fossil fuel-based power with renewable energy like wind power It is vital to halt the worst effects of climate change. But that transition is not easy. isn’t happening fast enoughStop global warming The atmosphere has been so heated by human activities that we have Also, carbon dioxide will have to be removed from the atmosphereLock it away for good.

Offshore wind farms are uniquely positioned to do both – and save money.

Map of coasts showing lease areas offshore

The Mid-Atlantic states, Massachusetts and Massachusetts are the most common locations for renewable energy leases off the Atlantic Coast. In February 2022, wind farms will be built on approximately 480,000 acres of New York Bight.

As a Marine geophysicistI have been exploring the potential of Technology that captures carbon dioxide can be paired with wind turbinesdirectly from the air and stores it under the sea in natural reservoirs. These technologies could be combined. Reduce energy costsCarbon capture and minimization of the need for onshore pipes, reducing environmental impacts.

Capturing CO2 in the air

There are many tech startups and research groups. testing direct air capture devicesThis can remove carbon dioxide directly from the atmosphere. The technology worksBut the Early projectsThese methods are both expensive and time-consuming.

The systems used Capture CO2 can be captured by liquid or filter solutionsThey can be blown with air. Once the filters are full, heat and electricity are required to release the carbon dioxide.

To achieve net negative emissions, the energy source must not be carbon-free.

The world’s largest active direct air capture plantThis is done by using waste heat and renewable energies. The Iceland plant then pumps its carbon dioxide into the basalt rock beneath, where it reacts with the basalt to calcify it. Turning to solid mineral.

Similar results could be achieved with offshore wind turbines.

If offshore wind turbines were to be constructed with direct air capture systems, they would provide an immediate source for clean energy. They could also pipe carbon dioxide into storage below the sea floor, which would reduce the need to build large pipelines.

Two men stand beneath a large structure with fans
Climeworks, a Swiss firm, has 15 air capture plants that remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

These systems are being studied by researchers at the moment. Under marine conditions. Direct air capture is just beginning to be used on land. The technology would likely need to be modified for the harsh environment of the ocean. Planning should begin now to ensure that wind power projects can take advantage of carbon storage sites.

Continue reading:
These machines scrub greenhouse gases from the air – an inventor of direct air capture technology shows how it works

Using excess wind power when it isn’t needed

Wind energy is often intermittent by nature. The demand for energy is also variable. Production is defined as the amount of power that the wind can produce. Be curtailedAll electricity that could have been used is lost.

That is power you don’t useInstead, could be used to Remove carbon from the air and lock it away.

For example, New York State’s goalTo have 9 gigawatts offshore wind power by 2035. It is expected that those 9 gigawatts will produce 27.5 Terawatt-hours per year.

Based on the historical wind curtailment rates in America, an 825 megawatt-hours annual surplus of electrical energy could be expected as offshore winds farms expand to meet this goal. Assuming direct air capture’s efficiency continues to improve and reaches commercial targets, this surplus energy could be used to capture and store upwards of 0.5 million tons of CO2 per year.

That’s if the system only used surplus energy that would have gone to waste. It would be more efficient at carbon capture and storage if it used wind power.

A map showing undersea storage options in the vicinity of offshore wind farm lease areas.

Many Mid-Atlantic regions being leased for offshore wind farm development also have the potential to store carbon beneath the seafloor. The capacity is measured in millions upon millions of metric tons CO2 per square kilometer. The U.S. produces approximately 4.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide from energy each year.
U.S. Department of Energy and Battelle

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change projected that 100 to 1000 gigatonsTo keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit), carbon dioxide must be removed from the atmosphere by the end of the century. This is a significant improvement on pre-industrial levels.

Researchers have calculated that Formations geologiques sub-seafloorNearby offshore wind developments on the U.S East Coast are the potential to store more than 500 gigatons CO2. Basalt rocks are Most likely to existThere are a number of buried basins in this area, which provide additional storage capacity and allow CO2 to react with basalt and solidify over the time. However, geotechnical surveys still have not tested these deposits.

Planning both simultaneously saves time as well as money

Direct air capture is a method of building wind farms that can generate renewable power and surplus power for carbon capture. This could optimize this huge investment for climate benefits.

It will take planning that begins well before construction. The marine geophysical surveys, environmental monitoring and approval processes for wind power and storage can be launched. Save time and avoid conflictsEnhance environmental stewardship.

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