Scientists Analyze Australian Wind Speeds

Scientists in the Marine and Atmospheric Research Department at Australia’s national Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) have performed a comprehensive analysis of wind speeds to better understand how climate change may impact long-term wind speed trends and wind energy production in Australia. Their findings indicate that light winds will increase at a faster rate than strong winds, as compared to average wind speeds.

Averaged across Australia, the research team found that wind speeds measured at a height of 10 meters increased by 0.69% per year, while wind speeds measured at 2m height had declined by 0.36% per year from 1989-2006. The increase in light wind speeds could cause variations of several hundred megawatts (MW) in wind energy production, which would have serious impacts on the transmission and distribution system.

world wind power data

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Accurate estimates of long-term wind speed trends are essential for the planning and financing of the wind energy sector, and a variety of sectors, including building construction, coastal erosion, and evaporation rates. According to Dr. Troccoli, the lead author of the paper published in the Journal of Climate, one of the first steps toward ensuring quality data is standardizing wind recording stations. Wind speed, like other meteorological variables, is sensitive to the conditions in which it is observed – for example, where the instrumentation sits relative to topographical features, vegetation and urban developments, as well as the height of the station. “The quality of future wind observational datasets will depend on having consistency between sites, particularly with respect to measurement procedure, maintenance of instrumentation, and detailed records of the site history,” Dr. Troccoli said.

This research was partly funded by a grant from the Australian Climate Change Science Program, supported by the Australian Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency.

Lauren Craig is a writer and consultant living in Seattle, WA. She holds an M.S. in International Development from Tulane University, and is co-founder of Sustainable Systems Integrators, LLC., an employee-owned solar energy design and installation firm in New Orleans, LA. She is also certified in PV design and installation by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP).

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