Current and future wind energy resources in the North Sea according to CMIP6

A. N. Hahmann*, O. García-Santiago, A. Peña

*Corresponding author for this work

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We explore the changes in wind energy resources in northern Europe using output from historical to mid-21st century CMIP6 simulations and the high-emission SSP5-8.5 scenario. This study improves upon many assumptions made in the past. First, we interpolate the winds to hub height using model-level raw data; second, we use a large ensemble of CMIP6 models; third, we consider the possible wake effects on the annual energy production of a large wind farm cluster proposed for the North Sea. The common practice of extrapolating 10 m wind speeds to turbine height using the power law with a constant shear exponent is often a poor approximation of the actual turbine-height wind speed. This approximation can exaggerate the future changes in wind resources and ignore possible surface roughness and atmospheric stability changes. The evaluation of the wind climatologies in the CMIP6 models over the North Sea for the historical period shows good correspondence with measurements from tall masts and three reanalysis data points for 16 of the 18 models. Some of the models run at relatively high spatial resolution are as good as the reanalyses at representing the wind climate in this region. Our results show that annual mean wind speed and wind resources in northern Europe are not particularly affected by climate change in 2031–2050 relative to 1995–2014, according to a subset of 16 models in the CMIP6 collection. However, the seasonal distribution of these resources is significantly altered. Most models agree on reductions in the future wind in summer in a band that extends from the British Isles to the Baltic Sea and on increases in winter in the southern Baltic Sea. The energy production calculations show that summer energy production in a planned large wind farm cluster in the North Sea could be reduced by a median of 6.9 % during 2031–2050 when taking into account the wind farm wakes (that accounts for −0.7 %) and the changes in air density (that account for −0.9 %).
Original languageEnglish
JournalWind Energy Science
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)2373-2391
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - 2022


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