First Conference on Weather, Climate, and the New Energy Economy
8th Users Forum on Weather and Climate Impacts


Impacts of climate change on global wind energy resources

Scott J. Eichelberger, 3TIER, Inc., Seattle, WA; and A. W. Wood, B. Nijssen, and K. J. Westrick

Given the current focus on climate change in the media and elsewhere, and the planning horizon for wind energy projects, a question of increasing concern is "What will be the impact of climate change on future wind energy resources?" Climate change impacts the wind energy industry by changing the availability of the wind resource, shifting energy requirements of consumers, and increasing demand for renewable energy sources. Understanding and planning ahead for such changes will be integral for the continued growth of the wind energy industry.

An underlying assumption in conventional wind energy resource assessment methods is that the past will repeat itself. However, uncertainty about the effects of climate change directly challenges this assumption. To assess the effects of climate change on monthly-mean and annual-mean wind speeds across the globe, we combined a high-resolution (5 km) wind map with climate model simulations from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 4th Assessment Report (AR4). IPCC AR4 simulations were downscaled to the wind map for two emission scenarios. To estimate the uncertainty in the climate projections, several model simulations were analyzed for each emission scenario. Differences in wind speed values were calculated for both 2030 and 2050. The presentation will focus on those regions projected to experience the greatest change in wind speed and those regions where the models show the most consistent results.

Recorded presentation

Joint Session 5, Applied Studies
Tuesday, 19 January 2010, 11:00 AM-12:00 PM, B202

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