A new study has concluded that regional changes stemming from climate change could boost wind energy by 2% in the Midwest.
In a study published in the journal Renewable Energy, Robert Erhardt, assistant professor of mathematics and statistics at Wake Forest University in North Carolina, US, and 2015 Wake Forest graduate Dana Johnson, used data to project the impact of climate change on wind energy density in the US, comparing the current time period (using data from 1968 to 2000) with the future (models depicting 2038 to 2070).
“Climate change is causing an overall warming trend but different parts of the globe warm at different rates and this is changing the wind,” said Erhardt, an environmental statistician. “Some would interpret this as good news about climate change, but I disagree with that. I wouldn’t call it good news. I would just call it a projected consequence of climate change.”
According to the Wake Forest University press release:
“Winds are caused by pressure gradients, which arise from things like the uneven heating of the atmosphere by the sun, the irregularities of the earth’s surface, and rotation of the earth. When captured by wind turbines, this motion energy can be used to generate electricity without using water.”
By using four independently built climate models, the two researchers were able to determine the regional changes in wind density, which included a projected increase of more than 2% in a region encompassing Kansas, Oklahoma, and northern Texas.
“It just so happens, that’s already a windy part of the country with an established and growing wind industry,” Erhardt explained. “All three states have targets of generating a certain amount of wind energy by the year 2020 so it’s a happy coincidence that these projected increases are in a region that already supports wind energy and is already invested in it. The region is well positioned to gain in these additional energy resources.”