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Study claims giant wind turbines could blow away hurricanes


imageOver the years, there has been no shortage of nutty notions designed to destroy, disperse, or otherwise defuse the destructive power of approaching hurricanes.

Heading the certifiably insane list is the theory that a nuclear blast could vaporize a hurricane, while other silly storm-buster proposals have included everything from dumping clods of absorbent material similar to cat litter into the storm’s eye to deprive of it moisture, to pouring loads of dry ice in its path to deprive it of heat.


Now, scientists have advanced a theory that just might work without benefit of kitty litter or nukes: enormous wind turbines placed offshore from storm-vulnerable areas.


The only small hitches are costs well into the trillions of dollars and environmental considerations, which will effectively blow away any chance of the theory becoming reality anytime soon.


The proposal, which was published in the journal Nature Climate Change and envisions a United States scenario, involves placing tens of thousands of massive wind turbines around the nation’s Gulf and Atlantic coastlines.


According to Mark Jacobson, a Stanford University professor of environmental engineering, the turbines could cut a hurricane’s winds and storm surge by up to 80 percent.


Professor Jacobson estimates that the Florida cities of Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach would need about 40,000 turbines each to be spared a hurricane.


“You’d have them staggered in farms, ideally right in front of the cities,” he said.


Theoretically the turbines’ giant rotor blades would spin in the winds of an approaching storm, extracting energy from it, while the blades would also create a turbulent wake.


The mind-blowing cost of the turbines – about US$10 million each – would be well justified, according to Jacobson.


“They would pay for themselves,” he said, noting that their primary purpose would be to generate electricity and reduce dependence on fossil fuels. 




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