Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Publication Date
1 November 2023

Projecting Future Energy Production from Wind Farms – Part 3

Print / PDF
Powerpoint Slide

Wind energy is an increasingly important source of renewable and low-carbon emission electricity worldwide and in the US. However, as with most renewable energy sources, the wind resource and thus the ability to generate electrical power varies across multiple time scales, including diurnal and seasonal. Thus, there is interest in quantifying to what degree electrical power generation from wind matches with electricity demand. Addressing this question is the focus of the current study.

This study is unique in that daily power production from actual operating wind farms and grid supply of electricity are used to evaluate the fidelity of the WRF simulations in the contemporary climate in terms of wind energy power production and to train statistical models.  This validation provides enhanced confidence in the projections developed.

In Parts I and II of this work, we focus on making projections of annual electricity production and the occurrence of electrical production droughts. Here, we extend the analysis to evaluate the variability of wind-generated electricity over the near and far future for sites in the Northeast (NE), Midwest (MW), Southern Great Plains (SGP) and South West Coast (SWC). Our analyses quantify possible changes in the time scales of electricity production variability and seasonality.


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. Global wind energy installed capacity (IC) grew at an annualized rate of over 14% between 2006 and 2020 and by the end of 2020, 742 GW of wind energy IC was generating approximately 6.5% of global electricity supply. Wind energy expansion to 2050 could provide a key climate change mitigation policy. Feasible increases in wind energy IC reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and the associated global mean temperature rise at 2100 by 0.3–0.8°C depending on the precise radiative forcing applied and the wind energy expansion scenario followed. Wind energy is also a weather-dependent source of electricity generation and thus may be impacted by global climate change. Here, we quantify the potential for greenhouse gas-induced climate change to alter the variability of wind-generated electricity supply and the degree to which it matches the seasonality of electricity demand in different regions of North America.


This is the final installment (part 3) of a triad of papers that seek to examine how wind resources and the potential for wind-generated electricity may be impacted by global climate change. These analyses are unique in that they use daily electricity generation from operating wind farms and regional supply to the electrical grid to both evaluate electricity generation computed using simulation output from the Weather Forecasting and Research (WRF) model and to condition statistical models linking atmospheric conditions to electricity production. In Parts I and II of this work, we focus on making projections of annual electricity production and the occurrence of electrical production droughts. Here, we extend this work to quantify whether the variability of wind-generated electricity will be enhanced or reduced across a range of time scales, including the seasonal cycle. Currently, wind-generated electricity is lowest in summer in each region except South West Coast (SWC), which causes a substantial mismatch with electricity demand. Research presented here suggests summertime electricity generation is likely to decline in all regions except the Southern Great Plains (SGP) and appears to be linked to a reduction in synoptic scale variability. Conversely, wintertime electricity generation appears to be stable in most regions. Electrification of residential heating may shift demand, and lead to enhanced synchronicity of demand and wind power generation.

Point of Contact
Sara C Pryor
Cornell University
Funding Program Area(s)
Additional Resources:
NERSC (National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center)