A study involving scientists from the United Kingdom’s Cardiff University and the Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen has given a boost to the wind powered energy industry after revealing that wind speeds around the world have increased in the last 10 years.
Since the 1970s, a process known as global terrestrial stilling meant that wind speeds had been decreasing, but research by the team in Cardiff, published in journal Nature Climate Change, confirms that not only has the trend been reversed, but the increase since 2010 is in fact three times greater than the previous rate of decline.
“This rapid increase in global wind speeds is certainly good news for the power industry,” said Adrian Chappell, from the Cardiff University School of Earth and Ocean Sciences.
“The reversal in global terrestrial stilling bodes well for the expansion of large-scale and efficient wind power generation systems in these mid-latitude countries in the near future.”
Zeng Zhenzhong from Shenzhen, who also worked on the project during his time at Princeton, said this would be good news for turbine electricity.
“This terrestrial stilling has been considered a potential drag on the future of wind power,” he told website Mashable, but added that the way oceanic circulation patterns affected wind speed meant there was the potential for the improvement to be undone in the future.
“We predict that the increasing wind speed trend will continue for 10 years, but we also show that because this is caused by ocean-atmosphere oscillations, maybe a decade later it will reverse again.”
Given the positive impact of wind power, Zeng said that ironically the study may shed light on the importance of climate change in affecting changing wind speeds, although the idea needed further investigation.
“We believe our study advances (the) understanding on how climate change affects wind, and we appeal for more scientists to focus on this important climate variable,” he said. “The study of wind can also shed light on the dynamic mechanisms of climate change.”
Chappell said the study’s findings underlined the importance of wind power in helping achieve the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change, and fighting global warming.
“The development of renewable energy sources is central to keeping warming below 2 degrees Celsius,” he said. “One megawatt of wind power reduces 1,300 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions and saves 2,000 liters of water compared with other energy sources.”
Simon Daniel, CEO of smart clean technology company Moixa said the topic was of particular interest to islands such as the United Kingdom.
“The global increase in wind speeds will affect islands more than anywhere else,” he said.
“Here in the UK, we must lead the world as a smart energy island and harness increasing wind speeds to expand renewable energy generation. Using AI to intelligently store and export the increased output from wind farms in electric vehicle and home batteries can deliver a resilient, economic energy system that hits our 2050 net-zero goals.”