A new statistical downscaling method is developed and used to make high-fidelity projections of wind power generation at operating wind farms in North America. By the end C21st, electricity production is projected to decrease in many areas but may increase in parts of the Southern Great Plains. The magnitude of these changes is a strong function of the ESM and the radiative forcing applied.
Wind energy represents 29% of total U.S. electricity generation capacity additions over the last decade with installed capacity rising to 135 GW at the end of 2021. We quantify possible changes in electricity production from wind in different regions of the US that might arise due to greenhouse gas-induced climate change.
A new machine learning method is developed and used to make high-fidelity projections of wind power generation at operating wind farms in North America. This new tool is applied to output from 115 realizations of CMIP6 generation Earth System Models that span a range of ESM dynamical cores and samples across radiative forcing scenarios. These projections are assessed both in terms of the degree to which each ESM reproduces key climate conditions responsible for dictating the wind resource and in terms of the consistency in the sign and magnitude of any projected changes. In the near term, changes in projected wind power electricity generation potential at operating wind farms over North America to the end of the twenty-first century are very small. Projections of median annual average capacity factors (P50(CF)) in 20-year periods towards the end of this century show evidence of declines at most wind farms except in parts of the Southern Great Plains, though the magnitude of the changes are strongly dependent on the ESM. For example, P50(CF) in 2080-2099 deviate from those in 1980-1999 by -3.1 to +0.2 percentage points in the Northeast. The largest magnitude declines in P50(CF) of -3.9 to -2 percentage points are projected for the southern West Coast. The change in projected wind power production is a strong function of the Earth System Model that is downscaled and is also dependent on the continued presence of internally forced climate variability. An additional dependence on the amount of greenhouse gas-induced global warming is shown that indicates transition of the energy sector to low-carbon sources may assist in maintaining the abundant US wind resource.