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Climate Dynamics

, Volume 52, Issue 7–8, pp 4891–4906 | Cite as

Wind energy variability and links to regional and synoptic scale weather

  • Dev MillsteinEmail author
  • Joshua Solomon-Culp
  • Meina Wang
  • Paul Ullrich
  • Craig Collier
Article

Abstract

The accurate characterization of seasonal and inter-annual site-level wind energy variability is essential during wind project development. Understanding the features and probability of low-wind years is of particular interest to developers and financers. However, a dearth of long-term, hub-height wind observations makes these characterizations challenging, and thus techniques to improve these characterizations are of great value. To improve resource characterization, we explicitly link wind resource variability (at hub-height, and at specific sites) to regional and synoptic scale wind regimes. Our approach involves statistical clustering of high-resolution modeled wind data, and is applied to California for a period covering 1980–2015. With this approach, we investigate the unique meteorological patterns driving low and high wind years at five separate wind project sites. We also find wind regime changes over the 36-year period consistent with global warming: wind regimes associated with anomalously hot summer days increased at half a day per year and stagnant conditions increased at one-third days per year. Despite these changes, the average annual resource potential remained constant at all project sites. Additionally, we identify correlations between climate modes and wind regime frequency, a linkage valuable for resource characterization and forecasting. Our general approach can be applied in any location and may benefit many aspects of wind energy resource evaluation and forecasting.

Keywords

Wind energy Wind resource inter-annual variability Regional climate 

Notes

Acknowledgements

This work was funded by the California Energy Commission under the Electric Program Investment Charge Grant, “EPC-15-068: Understanding and Mitigating Barriers to Wind Energy Expansion in California.” We would like to thank Chris Hayes and Daran Rife of DNV GL for helpful discussions. And from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, we thank Aditya Murthi for early input into this research and Samir Touzani for helpful discussion about the methodological approach. This research used resources of the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center, a DOE Office of Science User Facility supported by the Office of Science of the US Department of Energy under Contract No. DE-AC02-05CH11231.

Supplementary material

382_2018_4421_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (5 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 5089 KB)

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Lawrence Berkeley National LaboratoryBerkeleyUSA
  2. 2.University of California, DavisDavisUSA
  3. 3.DNV GLSan DiegoUSA

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