Study: Wind Availability To Shift Away From the United States

by | Dec 15, 2017

wind power availability United States Northern Hemisphere

Researchers from the University of Colorado published a new study this week showing that GHG emissions are shifting wind energy resources from the Northern Hemisphere to the Southern Hemisphere, Wired reported. For companies in the north banking on renewables, this could drastically affect future wind power capacity.

The study, published in Nature Geoscience, notes that global installed wind power cumulative capacity has grown on average by 22% annually since 2006. At the same time, wind energy resource assessments tend to be based on today’s climate without taking into account the effect GHG emissions have on global atmospheric circulation, the researchers say.

“Our calculations reveal decreases in wind power across the Northern Hemisphere mid-latitudes and increases across the tropics and Southern Hemisphere, with substantial regional variations,” they write.

The researchers used 10 climate models, each one using a different level of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations by 2050 and 2100, Wired’s Eric Niiler reported. “Together, those data indicate changing weather patterns will cause an 8 to 10% drop in wind across much of the Northern Hemisphere by 2050, with a 14 to 18% drop by the end of the century.”

While the researchers were quick to say that this doesn’t mean existing wind farms will stop working, it’s not particularly good news for the future wind energy in the United States. Last year, the country added 8,203 megawatts of wind power. At the same time, the price of wind turbine equipment has been dropping.

This year, a report from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory published by the DOE showed that wind energy prices are at all-time lows, making wind an attractive option to corporate buyers. In September, the Mars Inc. brand M&M’s launched a massive ad campaign promoting wind energy to the public. The company has partnerships with wind farms in Scotland and Texas as well as plans to start a new wind project in Mexico.

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