Upward trend in wind speeds improve efficiency in wind energy production

Nov. 18, 2019

Research led by a team at Princeton University shows average daily wind speeds are picking up across much of the globe after about 30 years of gradual slowing, providing a boon to wind farms and improving efficiency in wind energy production.

The researchers analyzed wind speed records collected between 1978 and 2017 from more than 1,400 weather stations in North America, Europe and Asia. In a paper published in Nature Climate Change, they showed that wind speeds have increased by 7% since 2010.

The findings mark a reversal of the pattern of declining winds in these regions since the 1980s — a phenomenon known as global terrestrial stilling.

Extending their findings to wind power generation, the researchers calculated that a typical wind turbine receiving the global average wind would have produced about 17% more energy in 2017 than in 2010. And using climate indices to project future wind speeds, they predicted a 37% increase by 2024.

Since the lifespan of a wind turbine is usually 20 years at most, having reliable projections of wind speeds at particular locations could be crucial to making smart investments in wind power and increasing the global share of renewable energy.

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