La Niña to Help U.S. Wind Industry

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La Niña is expected to continue and increase in strength this winter, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recently reported. Among other things, this means that wind speeds and wind energy production are also expected to increase.

At the request of its wind energy clients, 3TIER®, “the global leader in renewable energy information services,” released maps last week showing expected wind speed projections for the fourth quarter of 2010 and the first quarter of 2011 across most of the U.S.

“Our clients have responded very positively to our retrospective anomaly maps that show deviations from normal wind for past quarters. However, they have also told us that what they really want is a forecast for the next one or two quarters, especially when they are hearing about La Niña and its effects on climate all over the news,” said Pascal Storck, 3TIER’s Vice President of Advanced Applications.

To create our prediction, we performed a historical analysis of La Niña impacts on weather across the U.S. for the past 40 years. Our data show that if the La Niña event persists, as is forecasted by the global climate modeling community, many of the wind projects across the country should have a very good first quarter. This is a nice change from the first quarter of 2010 when many of the U.S. wind projects experienced below average wind speeds due to a strong El Niño effect.

Looks like good news for wind energy overall. However, the rather important wind energy corridor of West Texas and much of the upper Midwest and Northeast look like they won’t be getting much benefit from La Niña until 2011.

Map Credits: 3TIER®

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Zachary Shahan

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