Widespread decrease in wind energy resources found over the Northern Hemisphere

December 6, 2018, Chinese Academy of Sciences
Asia's biggest wind farm, the Dabancheng wind farm in China's Xinjiang province. Credit: Gang Huang

As climate change is becoming a greater matter of concern, efforts on mitigation are being undertaken by the world community. Developing clean and renewable energy is a major component of those efforts for its significant contribution to reducing carbon emission to the atmosphere compared with fossil fuel. In 2016, renewable energy contributed more than 19 percent to global energy consumption. Of all the renewable energy sources, the wind is key in terms of installed electricity generating capacity, which is only exceeded by hydropower.

Wind energy is a natural resource characterized by instability. Previous studies mainly focus on the assessment of wind energy reserves, but it's not clear how wind energy evolves over time.

A collaborative of researchers has now published a study focusing on the change in wind energy resources and model simulation ability, revealing a widespread decline in wind energy resources over the Northern Hemisphere. Using station observation data, the study finds that approximately 30 percent, 50 percent and 80 percent of the stations lost over 30 percent of the wind power potential since 1979 in North America, Europe, and Asia, respectively. The study also reveals that global climate models (GCM) cannot replicate the long-term changes in wind energy, indicating wind energy projections based on GCM simulations should be used with careful consideration to the model performance.

"Our study is one of the first comprehensive assessments of the GCM-based winds against surface observations over multiple continents. We found that the decline of wind energy is a widespread and potential global phenomenon. In addition, the finding that the climate models have a notable deficiency in simulating is an important conclusion that needs further attention," said Qun Tian, the lead author of the paper.

Explore further: Wind power vulnerable to climate change in India

More information: Qun Tian et al, Observed and global climate model based changes in wind power potential over the Northern Hemisphere during 1979–2016, Energy (2018). DOI: 10.1016/j.energy.2018.11.027

Related Stories

Wind power vulnerable to climate change in India

December 5, 2018

The warming of the Indian Ocean, caused by global climate change, may be causing a slow decline in wind power potential in India, according to a new study from the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied ...

Wind energy's swift growth, explained (Update)

April 23, 2018

The wind industry is growing quickly around the world, especially in China and the U.S., where the total amount of electricity generated by wind turbines nearly doubled between 2011 and 2017.

Danish wind power whips up record 43% of electricity

January 11, 2018

Wind power generated 43.4 percent of electricity consumed in Denmark last year, a new record for the Nordic nation which aims to rely on renewables for half of its energy needs by 2030, authorities said Thursday.

How climate change influences wind power

August 6, 2018

Climate change poses a big challenge for wind energy production in Europe. This is the conclusion of a study carried out by researchers at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) using spatially and temporally highly resolved ...

Recommended for you

Sculpting stable structures in pure liquids

February 21, 2019

Oscillating flow and light pulses can be used to create reconfigurable architecture in liquid crystals. Materials scientists can carefully engineer concerted microfluidic flows and localized optothermal fields to achieve ...

Researchers make coldest quantum gas of molecules

February 21, 2019

JILA researchers have made a long-lived, record-cold gas of molecules that follow the wave patterns of quantum mechanics instead of the strictly particle nature of ordinary classical physics. The creation of this gas boosts ...

LMC S154 is a symbiotic recurrent nova, study suggests

February 21, 2019

Astronomers have conducted observations of a symbiotic star in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), known as LMC S154, which provide new insights about the nature of this object. Results of these observations, presented in a ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.