Greenhouse gas emissions may impact future wind energy generation | December 18, 2017 Issue - Vol. 95 Issue 49 | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 95 Issue 49 | p. 17 | Concentrates
Issue Date: December 18, 2017

Greenhouse gas emissions may impact future wind energy generation

By Jeff Johnson, special to C&EN
Department: Government & Policy
Keywords: Energy, Climate Change, Greenhouse gases, Renewables, wind
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Because climate change alters global atmospheric circulation, the power generation capacity of North American wind farms may fall in the future.
Credit: Shutterstock
Photo of an array of wind turbines.
 
Because climate change alters global atmospheric circulation, the power generation capacity of North American wind farms may fall in the future.
Credit: Shutterstock

Wind energy is a growing renewable energy source with great potential, but greenhouse gas emissions and climate change may influence wind energy’s future availability across the globe. In the next century, because of climate change, wind resources may decrease in the Northern Hemisphere and sharply increase in hot spots in southern latitudes and the tropics, according to a study by University of Colorado, Boulder, researchers (Nat. Geosci. 2017, DOI: 10.1038/s41561-017-0029-9). Wind energy resources are an integral part of many nations’ strategies to meet carbon dioxide emissions reduction targets. Globally, installed wind power capacity has grown by some 22% per year since 2006, and wind power now provides about 3.7% of energy worldwide. However, assessments of future wind energy resources are usually based on today’s climate without considering that anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions will continue to modify global atmospheric circulation and temperature. In the new work, the researchers combined wind industry power calculations with an ensemble of 10 global climate models under high and low greenhouse gas emissions scenarios.

 
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