By February 16, 2016 Read More →

‘Wind drought’ may have long-term implications for US energy power generation

Drop in wind levels affected states from Washington to Florida, caused wind power output to fall dramatically short of expectations – Rife

The unprecedented drop in windiness affecting much of the United State in 2015 cannot be explained by the impacts of El Niño, says a new report, and the real cause could affect the development of wind power generation.

wind drought“Advanced analysis reveals more complex causes,” said Daran Rife, whose DNV GL mesoscale modelling team of atmospheric scientists and wind power engineers conducted the study. Rife is a globally recognized atmospheric scientist, whose more than 20-year career includes serving as a project scientist for the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and a meteorologist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The true source of the wind drought, according to Rife, was an unusual climate anomaly.

“A high-pressure ridge of unprecedented proportions and longevity, which formed and sustained itself from June 2013 to June 2015,” he said in a press release.

The study, Whither the Winds in 2015? finds that a mass of warm Pacific water nearly the size of the contiguous United States caused the high-pressure system.

“While such systems are typically associated with lower levels of wind, they rarely last longer than a week,” Rife said.

wind drought

Daran Rife, DNV GL.

The resulting drop in wind levels – a wind drought not seen since before 1979 – affected states from Washington to Florida and caused wind power output to fall dramatically short of expectations.

In 2015, California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Arizona, southeast Texas and Florida were among the regions reporting their lowest recorded wind levels in more than 25 years.

“As the U.S. increasingly looks to wind power to contribute a greater proportion of energy resources, there’s a great need to understand the complex factors of climate and weather that shape wind output,” said Rife.

“This study advances that body of knowledge in practical ways, supporting future forecasting accuracy and providing greater reliability to wind production estimates for power systems planners and investors.”

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