Sustainability of Wind Energy under Changing Wind Regimes—A Case Study
Atmospheric and Climate Sciences
A method was introduced to assess the sustainability of energy production over the lifetime (~20 y) of wind turbines. Community Earth System Model simulations were downscaled for the tourist seasons (mid-May to mid-September) of 2006 to 2012 (CESM-P1) and 2026 to 2032 (CESM-P2) to obtain a reference and projected wind-speed climatology, respectively. The wind speeds served to calculate the potential power output and capacity factors of seven turbine types. CESM-P1 windspeed climatology, power
... limatology, power output, and capacity factors were compared to those derived from wind speeds obtained by numerical weather forecasts for reference to known standard to wind-farm managers. Juneau, Alaska served as a virtual testbed as this region is known to experience changes in wind speeds in response to the Pacific Decadal Oscillation. CESM-P2 suggested about 2% decrease for wind speeds between the speeds at cut-in and rated power, and about 8% -10% decrease in potential wind-power output. This means that in regions of decadal climate variations, the sustainability of wind-energy production should be part of the decision-making process. The study demonstrated that using mean values of wind-speeds can provide qualitative knowledge about decreases/increases in potential energy production, but not about the magnitude. Using the total individual wind-speed data of all seasons provided the same amount of total power output than summing up the power outputs of individual seasons. The main advantage of calculating individual seasonal wind-power outputs, however, is that it theoretically permits assessment of interannual variability in power output and capacity factors. Comparison to a known standard may help stakeholders in understanding of uncertainty and interpretation of projected changes.