793 The impact of wind energy on weather: studies with a simplified model

Wednesday, 26 January 2011
Daniel Barrie, Univ. of Maryland, College Park, MD; and D. B. Kirk-Davidoff

The domestic use of wind energy is subject to many unpredictable factors, including the availability of land to build wind farms, the price of wind energy relative to energy generated from other technologies, federal and state policies, etc. These factors will ultimately determine the extent to which wind energy is used in the United States. However, there is a high probability that the use of wind energy will expand, and that wind turbines will cover increasingly large areas of the central United States, in particular. Previous modeling studies have demonstrated that regional and far downstream climatological and weather impacts result from large-scale wind energy. However, these studies make a number of assumptions, including the amount of area wind turbines occupy, and the magnitude of the wind farm-induced large-scale frictional forcing. These assumptions are subject to the influence of unpredictable socioeconomic developments, but they are important in characterizing the magnitude and extent of wind energy impacts on the atmosphere. This research project examined the range of impacts that would result from varying previously used model parameters in order to address the uncertainty associated with future domestic wind energy use.

We are building on past work by utilizing a simplified baroclinic model of the atmosphere to study the influence of various wind energy and atmospheric parameters on the resulting climate and weather impacts. These parameters include the size of the area over which wind turbines are installed, the position of the wind farm relative to the mid-latitude surface westerlies, the impact of various jet strengths and atmospheric stability regimes, and the magnitude of the frictional forcing used to represent the wind farm in a model. In this work, we have utilized a simplified version of the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model, which was forced with idealized radiative and boundary layer schemes. We have been able to characterize the relationship between the magnitude of the wind energy impacts and the above-described parameters.

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