8.1 The impact of anthropogenic global warming on the United States wind resource

Thursday, 27 January 2011: 2:00 PM
4C-4 (Washington State Convention Center)
Daniel Barrie, Univ. of Maryland, College Park, MD; and D. B. Kirk-Davidoff

In economic analyses of wind energy, wind farm projects are assumed to have lifetimes on the order of 20 years. A particular site may host a wind farm for longer than this period with refurbished or replaced turbines. Over these decadal time scales, the impact of anthropogenic global warming (AGW) on wind patterns could affect the economic viability of the wind resource in a particular location, increasing or decreasing a project's energy yield.

To study the potential impacts of AGW on the wind resource, we have utilized climate model data prepared by the third phase of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's Fourth Assessment Report. In addition, we have examined output from the North American Regional Climate Change Assessment Project's regional-scale modeling of projected climate change impacts within the United States. The predicted changes show very strong dependence on both the details of the parameterizations in the regional models (e.g. roughness length data sets) as well as strong dependence on the differences in large scale stationary and transient wave phenomena derived in part from the GCM-forced boundary conditions. We will present findings derived from these data sets regarding changes in the domestic wind resource, as well as a discussion of the mechanisms responsible for the observed changes.

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