Climate impacts of large-scale wind farms as parameterized in a global climate model

The local, regional, and global climate impacts of a large-scale global deployment of wind power in regionally high densities over land are investigated for a 60-yr period. Wind farms are represented as elevated momentum sinks as well as enhanced turbulence to represent turbine blade mixing in the Community Atmosphere Model, version 5 (CAM5), a global climate model. For a total installed capacity of 2.5 TW, to provide 16% of the world’s projected electricity demand in 2050, minimal impacts are found both regionally and globally on temperature, sensible and latent heat fluxes, cloud, and precipitation. A mean near-surface warming of 0.12 ± 0.07 K is seen within the wind farms, with a global-mean temperature change of -0.013 ± 0.015 K. Impacts on wind speed and turbulence are more pronounced but largely confined within the wind farm areas. Increasing the wind farm areas to provide an installed capacity of 10 TW, or 65% of the 2050 electricity demand, causes further impacts; however, they remain slight overall. Maximum temperature changes are less than 0.5 K in the wind farm areas. To provide 20 TW of installed capacity, or 130% of the 2050 electricity demand, impacts both within the wind farms and beyond become more pronounced, with a doubling in turbine density. However, maximum temperature changes remain less than 0.7 K. Representing wind farms instead as an increase in surface roughness generally produces similar mean results; however, maximum changes increase, and influences on wind and turbulence are exaggerated. Overall, wind farm impacts are much weaker than those expected from greenhouse gas emissions, with very slight global-mean climate impacts.

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Author Fitch, Anna
Publisher UCAR/NCAR - Library
Publication Date 2015-08-01T00:00:00
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Topic Category geoscientificInformation
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Metadata Date 2023-08-18T18:20:47.004026
Metadata Record Identifier edu.ucar.opensky::articles:16863
Metadata Language eng; USA
Suggested Citation Fitch, Anna. (2015). Climate impacts of large-scale wind farms as parameterized in a global climate model. UCAR/NCAR - Library. Accessed 21 May 2024.

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