Global warming cuts available wind energy: Study

November 10th, 2010 - 4:41 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Nov 10 (ANI): A climate researchers at the University of Texas at Austin has found that rising temperatures decrease wind speeds, making for less power bang for the wind turbine buck.

The prevailing winds in the “free” atmosphere about 1,000 meters above the ground are maintained by a temperature gradient that decreases toward the poles.

“The stronger the temperature contrast, the stronger the wind,” Diandong Ren said.

But as the climate changes and global temperatures rise, the temperature contrast between the lower latitudes and the poles decreases slightly, because polar regions tend to warm up faster. And as that temperature contrast becomes weaker, so too do the winds.

Wind turbines are powered by winds at lower altitudes about 100 meters above the ground.

Ren calculated that a 2-4 degree Celsius increase in temperatures in Earth’s mid to high-latitudes would result in a 4-12 percent decrease in wind speeds in certain high northern latitudes.

This means, he said that with “everything else being the same, we need to invest in more wind turbines to gain the same amount of energy. Wind energy will still be plentiful and wind energy still profitable, but we need to tap the energy source earlier” — before there is less to tap.

The study appeared in the AIP’s Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy. (ANI)

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