As we plan for a net-zero energy future, handling the reliability of wind and solar energy becomes an increasingly important issue. There is a large body of research on weather extremes and how they will be impacted by climate change. Recently, there has been increasing interest in extreme low values in power resource availability and their relationship to weather patterns. Understanding and predicting these “droughts” in wind and solar power availability can help inform the transition to net-zero.
Large-scale atmospheric flow patterns are predicted fairly well by weather forecast models that have high spatial resolution. But climate models, which must be run for much longer periods, typically have coarser resolution by an order of magnitude. We assess how well climate models simulate wind and solar droughts at two different horizontal grid resolutions, ~100km and ~25km. We analyze the relationships between power droughts and weather patterns, for current and future climates. We initially focus on two regions of interest in the US, Western North America and Texas. We find that the spatial structure of this relationship varies geographically between the regions, with regard to the location of the high/low pressure areas in relation to the region of interest. Our initial results also suggest that merely switching to higher resolution may not improve the model simulations of wind and solar droughts, indicating that model bias may be a more important factor.