There now appears to be a way to kill a hurricane’s
power by transferring its energy into electricity. According to his advanced climate-weather
computer model, Stanford researcher Mark Jacobson found that installing massive offshore wind
turbine farms in the path of a hurricane diminishes hurricane wind speeds by up to 92 mph and
storm surge by up to 79%. The catch is that the simulation used
300 Gigawatts of installed wind turbine capacity, when the biggest offshore wind farm man has
built to this point is the London array at only 630 Megawatts of installed capacity,
nearly 500 times smaller than the one Jacobson used in the model. Plus, the London Array
also cost $3 billion. So, scaling up to a wind farm the size of which was used in the
study would cost hundreds of billions of dollars. But think of the different problems this could
simultaneously eliminate. Hurricane Sandy caused over $80 billion in damages as did
Katrina, which basically wiped out New Orleans. With climate change making these storms more
intense and more frequent, one idea to protect cities has been the construction of giant
sea walls at a cost ranging from $10-30 billion per city. But a giant wind farm could protect
entire coastlines, while paying for itself through the energy it produces and CO2 emissions
if reduces. A 300 GW array-like the one in the study would create enough electricity
to power around 100,000,000 homes. If building one of these mega farms in the gulf coast
could simultaneously stop the threat of hurricanes in the region and provide the power for a
large portion of the country in a clean, renewable way, why would we not take a hard look at
this? If we’re going to solve these big, 21st-century problems, we need to start thinking
boldly. We should build off Mark Jacobson’s study with a much more in-depth examination
to both confirm these findings and to make sure that stopping hurricanes wouldn’t have
unintended negative consequences on the ecosystem more broadly. But if the data continues to
look as good as it does right now, I say we go for it and construct two, 300 GW arrays:
one in the Gulf of Mexico and one off the Eastern Seaboard.