Wind Power Blowing Strong In Cold Climates

The deployment of wind turbines in cold climates has been taking place rapidly in cold climates.

Wind farm in the snow (Netherlands).
Dutch wind farm.
Image via T.W. van Urk/Shutterstock.

This deployment is so significant that 40–50 GW of wind power capacity (wind turbines, basically) is forecast to be constructed by 2017. That would be an increase of 72% compared to 2012, and cost approximately €75 billion.

Wind speeds tend to be higher during the winter in the United States. For example, in Birmingham, wind speeds are highest during the winter months of December, February, and March, while wind speeds are lowest in the hot summer months of June, July, and August.

The density of cold air also helps to increase wind power production, according to Technical Research Centre of Finland (VTT).

“This is a huge opportunity,” says Research Scientist Tomas Wallenius from VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland. “There has been a lot of talk about the potential of offshore wind power, but the market for cold climate wind energy is more than ten times greater. We already have the tools to harness the potential of cold climate wind energy cost-effectively, while offshore wind energy is still at the research and development stage.”

Winter weather can have a negative impact on wind turbines (ice and snow accumulation for example), but fortunately, this has been studied and addressed (to some extent). Icing, for example, causes production losses of 3–10% per year. Anti-icing systems address this by pulsating the blades and heating them.

VTT has conducted the first study into the feasibility of deploying wind turbines in cold regions across the globe. Some of the cold climates include Scandinavia, Canada, Central Europe, United States, and China.

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