Projected changes in wind energy potential over West Africa under the global warming of 1.5 °C and above
This study investigates the potential impacts of climate change on wind power over West Africa under various global warming levels. For the study, we analysed eleven multi-model multi-ensemble simulation datasets from the Coordinated Regional Climate Downscaling Experiment (CORDEX) project. The model simulations for the present-day climate were compared with available station observation data and two examples of reanalysis data (ERA-INTERIM and ERA-20C). The results show that model ensemble mean gives a realistic simulation of wind speed and wind power density (WPD) over West Africa, although it overestimates them. In agreement with the reanalysis, the models indicate that the strongest winds and largest WPD are in the Sahel zone, especially around Dakar. However, while the regional climate models (RCMs) show thirteen cities are viable for potential wind power generation in the historical climate, the reanalysis indicates only four Sahelian cities are suitable for it. The RCMs project an increase in monsoon wind speed and WPD over West African cities and the magnitude of the increase grows with the global warming levels. Nevertheless, the increase is not sufficient to make the cities in the Guinean and Savannah zones viable for wind power generation in the warmer climate. The results of the study may guide policymakers on harnessing wind power potential to meet the electricity demands of West Africa in the future.
We thank the meteorological agencies of Burkina Faso and Ghana for providing the station data, CORDEX project for giving access to the simulation data and ECMWF for providing the reanalysis data. The computing facilities were provided by the Climate System Analysis Group (CSAG) at the University of Cape Town (UCT, South Africa) and the Computation Centre for High Performance Computing (CHPC, South Africa).
Funding for this study was provided by the German Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) through the West African Science Service Center on Climate Change and Adapted Land Use (WASCAL) and by the South African National Research Foundation (NRF).
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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