The impact of Anthropogenic Climate Change on the U.S. Wind Resource

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Wednesday, 20 January 2010
Exhibit Hall B2 (GWCC)
Daniel B. Kirk-Davidoff, Univ. of Maryland, College Park, MD; and D. Barrie

Wind turbine installations are expected to continue their rapid growth for the foreseeable future. In light of this growth and in light of the large investments in power transmission infrastructure needed to sustain it, there is an urgent need to understand the implications of anthropogenic climate change on the wind resource. We have analyzed the IPCC AR4 model runs, and North American Regional Climate Change Assessment Program (NARCCAP) high-resolution model runs, comparing their simulations of present climate with NASA QuikScat satellite measured surface winds and with reanalyzed surface winds to identify models that best capture the mean and variability of surface winds, and calculated the change in wind resource predicted by global and regional climate models under likely greenhouse gas forcing scenarios. Our analysis shows substantial model agreement on increased wind resource over the south central plains on the order of 10%, with reductions in the wind resource predicted over the coast.

In this presentation we will explain our methodology for analyzing model fidelity to surface wind data, and for interpolating model level wind predictions to hub-height wind. We will summarize our results to date on the role of model resolution in determining the character of the wind power response to greenhouse forcing.