There’s good news and bad news when it comes to wind energy and a warming planet. According to The Guardian, scientists have discovered that the world’s shifting ocean circulation patterns may have triggered a rapid increase in wind speeds over the last 10 years.
So the good news is that global heating may actually increase the output of wind generators. The bad news is that if the planet gets hot enough, we’re all going to die. So how you view this news will depend on whether you are a glass half full or half empty kind of person.
“The international research team analysed data from 9,000 international weather stations since the late 1970s and found that wind speeds had unexpectedly increased after a three-decade slowdown.”
Their findings are reported in the peer reviewed journal Nature Climate Change.
“Dr Zhenzhong Zeng, a professor at Princeton University and the lead author of the report, said the research team was surprised by the findings after setting out to study the slowdown in global wind speeds.
“The faster than expected wind speeds could help increase the amount of renewable electricity generated by windfarms by more than a third to 3.3m kilowatt hours (kWh) by 2024.
“Zeng said the unexpected acceleration is likely to have played a bigger role in improving the efficiency of windfarms in the US than technological innovations.”
Higher wind speeds are expected to continue for at least the next decade.
“Dr Adrian Chappell, a professor at Cardiff University and a co-author of the report, said the rapid increase in global wind speed bodes well for the expansion of renewable energy which will be central to keeping global heating to below 2C.”
The findings of the research are a reversal of something known to the climate science community as global terrestrial stilling. Decreasing wind speeds over the last three decades were expected to cut the world’s wind power potential by half by the end of this century. But thanks to pouring billions of tons more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, humans will have plenty of renewable energy available as the continents slowly sink beneath the waves. Oh, joy.