A new study by scientists from the Indiana University Bloomington shows that the production of wind energy in the United States of America will not be greatly affected by the climbing temperatures.
The report is the first analysis of the long term stability of wind energy production in the US and shows that over the next 30 to 50 years the industry will be largely unaffected.
“The greatest consistencies in wind density we found were over the Great Plains, which are already being used to harness wind, and over the Great Lakes, which the U.S. and Canada are looking at right now,” said Provost’s Professor of Atmospheric Science Sara Pryor, the project’s principal investigator. “Areas where the model predicts decreases in wind density are quite limited, and many of the areas where wind density is predicted to decrease are off limits for wind farms anyway.”
Co-author on the project, Rebecca Barthelmie, a professor of atmospheric science at Bloomington, noted that the study is one of the early steps in addressing the massive lack of information about the long-term stability of wind energy as a resource for the future.
“We decided it was time someone did a thorough analysis of long term-patterns in wind density,” Barthelmie said. “There are a lot of myths out there about the stability of wind patterns, and industry and government also want more information before making decisions to expand it.”
Using three separate climate models – the Canadian Regional Climate Model (CRCM), Regional Climate Model 3 (created in Italy but now developed in the U.S.) and the Hadley Centre Model (developed in the U.K.) – the scientists were able to complete a full picture of wind density changes throughout the contiguous US, and parts of northern Mexico.
They compared model prediction for 2041 through to 2062 with observations of wind density throughout 1979 to 2000.
“There was quite a bit of variability in predicted wind densities, but interestingly, that variability was very similar to the variability we observe in current wind patterns,” Pryor said.
Areas that are expected to see continuing high wind density, and therefore nice opportunity for the generation of wind energy, are atop the Great Lakes, eastern New Mexico, southwestern Ohio, southern Texas, and large swaths of several Mexican states, including Nuevo Leon, Tamaulipas, Chihuahua, and Durango.
The Great Lakes – Lakes Michigan, Superior, and Erie in particular – are expected to trend consistently high wind densities into the future.
These predictions are of immense use for a country which is looking at its sustainable future, and hoping to make wind energy 20% of its total energy production by 2030.
“There have been questions about the stability of wind energy over the long term, ” Barthelmie said. “So we are focusing on providing the best science available to help decision makers.” Pryor added that ‘this is the first assessment of its type, so the results have to be considered preliminary. Climate models are evolving and improving all the time, so we intend to continue this assessment as new models become available.’
Source: Indiana University Bloomington
Image Source: Steve Scott, IU Bloomington