LONDON: Wind power capacity could decrease in the northern hemisphere this century and rise in the southern hemisphere due to the effects of global warming, research by U.S. scientists showed.
In a study published in the journal Nature Geoscience, scientists at the University of Colorado Boulder used global climate change forecasts and industry wind turbine curves to project changes to future wind power capacity.
They project that the amount of wind output available to convert into electricity using turbines this century will decline particularly in central United States, Britain, the northern Middle East, central and northern Asia and far eastern Asia.
Increases could occur in Mexico and central America, eastern Brazil, south-east Africa, south-east Asia, north-east Australia and the south-east Arabian Peninsula, the study said.
These changes are due to rapid warming in the Arctic which reduces the temperature difference between the Arctic and the tropics which drive the intensity of storms.
Average wind power over the central United States is seen decreasing by 8 to 10 percent by 2050 and 14 to 18 percent by 2100, depending on concentrations of carbon dioxide emissions which is the main greenhouse gas responsible for global warming, the study said.
However, other research has shown that some regions in the United States could see an increase in wind energy output.
Global installed wind energy capacity has grown on average by 22 percent a year since 2006 as countries turn to low-carbon sources to produce electricity.
Renewables, including wind, solar, bioenergy, hydropower and wave and tidal, could account for nearly 30 percent of the global energy mix in five years’ time, according to the International Energy Agency.
Scientists at the University of Colorado Boulder said assessments of wind energy resources have so far mostly been based on today’s climate, rather than taking into account the effects of higher greenhouse gas emissions levels.
Commenting on the study, other scientists said day-to-day variations should also be taken into account.
“While significant changes in regional wind climate cannot be ruled out, it is obviously important to be cautious about over-interpreting the results of any single climate model or study,” said David Bradshaw, associate professor at the University of Reading.
“This study therefore confirms that further research is needed to understand large-scale changes in wind patterns and the diversity in climate model projections,” he added.
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