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Publication Date
17 January 2020

20% of US Electricity From Wind Will Have Limited Impacts on System Efficiency and Regional Climate



Impacts from current and future wind turbine (WT) deployments necessary to achieve 20% electricity from wind are analyzed using high-resolution numerical simulations over the eastern USA. Theoretical scenarios for future deployments are based on repowering (i.e. replacing with higher capacity WTs) thus avoiding competition for land. Simulations for the contemporary climate and current WT deployments exhibit good agreement with observed electricity generation efficiency (gross capacity factors (CF) from simulations = 45-48%, while net CF for WT installed in 2016 = 42.5%). Under the scenario of quadrupled installed capacity there is a small decrease in system-wide efficiency as indicated by annual mean CF. This difference is approximately equal to that from the two simulation years and may reflect saturation of the wind resource in some areas. WT modifies the local near-surface climate in the grid cells where they are deployed. The simulated impact on near-surface climate properties at both the regional and local scales does not increase with increasing WT installed capacity. Climate impacts from WT are modest compared to regional changes induced by historical changes in land cover and to the global temperature perturbation induced by the use of coal to generate an equivalent amount of electricity.

“20% Of Us Electricity From Wind Will Have Limited Impacts On System Efficiency And Regional Climate”. 2020. Scientific Reports 10. doi:10.1038/s41598-019-57371-1.
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