Economic and Sustainability Promises of Wind Energy Considering the Impacts of Climate Change and Vulnerabilities to Extreme Conditions

Di Zhang, Zhenci Xu, Canbing Li, Rui Yang, Mohammad Shahidehpour*, Qiuwei Wu, Mingyu Yan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

A dramatic expansion of the worldwide wind power capacity is underway which is critical to an effective mitigation of climate change. However, wind tower infrastructure is susceptible to extreme weather conditions such as tropical cyclones and thunderstorms. Under the context of global climate changes and intense weather events, it is imperative to assess the impacts of extreme conditions on the susceptibility of the global wind power with important implications on energy security and power system resilience. In this paper, we discuss the necessity and rationality of wind power deployment considering extreme weather perspectives on enhancing the global sustainability, security, economics, and resilience. We assess the vulnerability of wind power to extreme weather events under climate change
and present the correlation of wind power proliferation, extreme weather events, and climate change issues. Our results indicate that, if extreme wind speed increases by 20% considering a 50-year return wind speed and load safety factor is changed from 1.35 to 1.7, the initial capital cost of wind unit installation by the end of this century could increase by about 12% because of the higher strength in tropical cyclones. In this period, upward lightning strike will be intensified due to the use of taller wind turbines and higher angular speed of blades. Also, additional storm surges and sea ices will potentially cause higher risks to inland and offshore wind tower structures and foundations because of the continuously rising sea levels. It is confirmed in our discussion that the proliferation of wind power generation would be beneficial despite its vulnerabilities by curbing the use of fossil-based power generation units, mitigating severe carbon emission, and reducing climatic changes and extreme weather events, which could also cause significant structural damages to wind turbines installations globally. The article concludes that it is vital in the scientific community to further analyze the relationship among global wind energy integration, extreme weather events, and climate changes, and for politicians to formulate a comprehensive energy policy strategy, as engineers continue to investigate the means of deploying additional inland and offshore wind farms and consider other types of renewable energy resources with a direct link with weather conditions, for a sustainable, economic, secure, and resilient energy production.
Original languageEnglish
JournalThe Electricity Journal
Volume32
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)7-12
ISSN1040-6190
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Keywords

  • Wind energy
  • Sustainability
  • Extreme weather

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