Potential climate change impact on wind energy resources in northern Europe: analyses using a regional climate model
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There is considerable interest in the potential impact of climate change on the feasibility and predictability of renewable energy sources including wind energy. This paper presents dynamically downscaled near-surface wind fields and examines the impact of climate change on near-surface flow and hence wind energy density across northern Europe. It is shown that: Simulated wind fields from the Rossby Centre coupled Regional Climate Model (RCM) (RCAO) with boundary conditions derived from ECHAM4/OPYC3 AOGCM and the HadAM3H atmosphere-only GCM exhibit reasonable and realistic features as documented in reanalysis data products during the control period (1961–1990). The near-surface wind speeds calculated for a climate change projection period of 2071–2100 are higher than during the control run for two IPCC emission scenarios (A2, B2) for simulations conducted using boundary conditions from ECHAM4/OPYC3. The RCAO simulations conducted using boundary conditions from ECHAM4/OPYC3 indicate evidence for a small increase in the annual wind energy resource over northern Europe between the control run and climate change projection period and for more substantial increases in energy density during the winter season. However, the differences between the RCAO simulations for the climate projection period and the control run are of similar magnitude to differences between the RCAO fields in the control period and the NCEP/NCAR reanalysis data. Additionally, the simulations show a high degree of sensitivity to the boundary conditions, and simulations conducted using boundary conditions from HadAM3H exhibit evidence of slight declines or no change in wind speed and energy density between 1961–1990 and 2071–2100. Hence, the uncertainty of the projected wind changes is relatively high.