Part of the basic strategy involved in choosing a location for a wind power generation farm is considering places with consistent wind density. It stands to reason if you want to create energy from wind power, that you harness it where the wind is most consistent and powerful. It’s natural, then, that we might be concerned about the long term forecast for climate change and the impact it could have on wind energy generation. According to a couple of Indiana University Bloomington scientists, the next 30-50 years should be looking good for the country’s wind farms.
The pair’s report, which appears in “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences”, indicates that production of wind energy in the U.S. over the next 30-50 years will be largely unaffected by upward changes in global temperature. Professors of Atmospheric Science, Sara Pryor and Rebecca Barthelmie co-authored the report. Barthelmie says that questions have lingered about whether a warmer atmosphere might lead to decreases in wind density or changes in wind patterns so the the team decided to do a thorough analysis of long term-patterns in wind density.
The report shows that the greatest consistencies in wind density were found over the Great Plains and the Great Lakes. The areas where the model predicted decreases in wind density were, according to Pryor, “quite limited,” and “off limits for wind farms anyway.”
The team used three different climate models chained together to look at wind density changes in the US, presuming a “modest but noticeable climate change” of about 2 degrees Celsius warmer relative to the end of the last century. “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.” She then noted that climate models are evolving and improving all the time and that, since this is the first assessment of its type, results have to be considered preliminary.