Hurricanes are unstoppable, right? Apparently not. An intriguing new computer simulation shows that 78,000 large wind turbines spread across 35,000 square kilometers of ocean outside of New Orleans would have cut Hurricane Katrina’s category 3 winds at landfall by 129 to 158 kilometers per hour (80 to 98 miles per hour) and reduced the storm surge by 79 percent. The same collection of turbines offshore of New York City would have dropped Hurricane Sandy’s winds by 125 to 140 kph and the surge by up to 34 percent.
That sounds impressive. But wait…78,000 turbines? Each one 100 meters high with a blade span 127 meters in diameter spaced about 650 meters apart and spanning a region of ocean 2.5 times the size of Connecticut? The idea sounds crazy, except for the bottom line: “The cost would be zero,” says Mark Jacobson, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford University. “The turbines pay for themselves through the revenue from generating electricity. The storm surge and wind protection are free—a bonus.”
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