What Europe's exceptionally low winds mean for the future energy grid

Asia's Tech News Daily

Shaggyphoto / shutterstock

Through summer and early autumn 2021, Europe experienced a long period of dry conditions and low wind speeds. The beautifully bright and still weather may have been a welcome reason to hold off reaching for our winter coats, but the lack of wind can be a serious issue when we consider where our electricity might be coming from.

To meet climate mitigation targets, such as those to be discussed at the upcoming COP26 event in Glasgow, power systems are having to rapidly change from relying on fossil fuel generation to renewables such as wind, solar and hydropower. This change makes our energy systems increasingly sensitive to weather and climate variability and the possible effects of climate change.

That period of still weather badly affected wind generation. For instance, UK-based power company SSE stated that its renewable assets produced 32% less power than expected. Although this may appear initially alarming, given the UK government’s plans to become a world leader in wind energy, wind farm developers are aware these low wind “events” are possible, and understanding their impact has become a hot topic in energy-meteorology research.

A new type of extreme weather

So should we be worried about this period of low wind? In short, no. The key thing here is that we’re experiencing an extreme event. It may not be the traditional definition of extreme weather (like a large flood or a hurricane) but these periods, known in energy-meteorology as “wind-droughts”, are becoming critical to understand in order to operate power systems reliably.

Recent research I published with colleagues at the University of Reading highlighted the importance of accounting for the year-to-year variability in wind generation as we continue to invest in it, to make sure we are ready for these events when they do occur. Our team has also shown that periods of stagnant high atmospheric pressure over central Europe, which lead to prolonged low wind conditions, could become the most difficult for power systems in future.

Climate change could play a role

When we think about climate change we tend to focus much more on changes in temperature and rainfall than on possible variations in near-surface wind speed. But it is an important consideration in a power system that will rely more heavily on wind generation.

The latest IPCC report suggests that average wind speeds over Europe will reduce by 8%-10% as a result of climate change. It is important to note that wind speed projections are quite uncertain in climate models compared with those for near-surface temperatures, and it is common for different model simulations to show quite contrasting behaviour.

Colleagues and I recently analysed how wind speeds over Europe would change according to six different climate models. Some showed wind speeds increasing as temperatures warm, and others showed decreases. Understanding this in more detail is an ongoing topic of scientific research. It is important to remember that small changes in wind speed could lead to larger changes in power generation, as the power output by a turbine is related to the cube of the wind speed (a cubic number is a number multiplied by itself three times. They increase very fast: 1, 8, 27, 64 and so on).

Change in wind speed compared to 1986-2005 if we were to limit global warming to 1.5C. Areas in blue will have less wind; areas in green, more wind. IPCC Interactive Atlas, CC BY-SA

The reductions in near-surface wind speeds seen in the above map could be due to a phenomenon called “global stilling”. This can be explained by the cold Arctic warming at a faster rate than equatorial regions, which means there is less difference in temperature between hot and cold areas. This temperature difference is what drives large-scale winds around the globe through a phenomenon called thermal wind balance.

With all the talk of wind power being the answer to our energy needs, amid spiralling gas prices and the countdown to COP26, the recent wind drought is a clear reminder of how variable this form of generation can be and that it cannot be the sole investment for a reliable future energy grid. Combining wind with other renewable resources such as solar, hydropower and the ability to smartly manage our electricity demand will be critical at times like this summer when the wind is not blowing.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

The Conversation

Hannah Bloomfield does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

Internet Explorer Channel Network
Asia's Tech News Daily
News Related

OTHER NEWS

Best-in-class gaming mouse drops to lowest price in surprise Cyber Monday deal

If you’re serious about your gaming mice, then you can’t do much better than the Razer DeathAdder V2 Pro. Especially now Amazon has knocked it down to an unprecedented $69.99 ... Read more »

The Brand New Amazon Fire Tablet Is on Sale for the First Time Ever, and It's Half Off

amazon tablet Amazon When you think about buying a tablet, you probably envision the high price tags that often come along with tech purchases, and you might hesitate to make ... Read more »

Put your worries to bed with this weighted blanket Cyber Monday deal

After a weighted blanket ahead of Cyber Monday? You’re not the only one – countless people have found that a weighted blanket can reduce stress and help them get to ... Read more »

Cyber Monday Roomba deals 2021: today's biggest savings

Cyber Monday Roomba deals 2021: Jump to… (Image credit: TechRadar / iRobot) US: Best Cyber Monday Roomba deals – Roomba robot vacuums $100-$399 – Roomba robot vacuums $400+ UK: Best ... Read more »

Leinster vs Ulster live stream: how to watch 2021 United Rugby Championship from anywhere

November has been a real feel-good month for Irish rugby, and it closes with a top-of-the-table interprovincial clash between Leinster and Ulster – a meeting of rampant rivals that promises ... Read more »

PS5 and Xbox Series X restock announced for Cyber Monday at Walmart

Walmart has announced it will be holding a PS5 and Xbox Series X restock on Cyber Monday – but once again, you will need to be a Walmart+ member to ... Read more »

Make your old car a smart car for just $15 with this hugely popular Cyber Monday deal

If your current car doesn’t lacks smart features like a built-in voice assistant, you can change that for just $15. Amazon has a whole host of Cyber Monday deals already ... Read more »

Princess Anne wows in glittering dress and unexpected jewel

Princess Anne put in a glamorous appearance at the Team GB ball on Thursday evening, celebrating British athletes' success at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. MORE: Princess Anne's secret cooking skill ... Read more »

Richard Madeley: The truth about my ‘funny turn' on I'm A Celebrity

Richard Madeley had to leave I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! this week – ITV/Shutterstock For the last 19 years, I’ve watched I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out ... Read more »

Covid news - live: Boris Johnson to announce ‘further measures' as UK finds first two cases of Omicron variant

Boris Johnson is expected to announce “further measures” in a coronavirus press briefing at 5pm, after the UK detected its first two cases of the new Omicron Covid variant. The ... Read more »

Ted Cruz and Donald Trump Jr. taunt the WHO for skipping 'Xi' to name the new coronavirus variant 'Omicron'

Texas Senator Ted Cruz (L), Donald Trump Jr. (R).Tom Williams-Pool/Getty Images (L), Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images (R) The WHO skipped two letters of the Greek alphabet to name the new coronavirus ... Read more »

Black Friday gaming PC deals 2021: the best offers still available now

Some Black Friday gaming PC deals have lasted longer than the day itself, meaning you can still get yourself one of the best gaming PCs at incredibly aggressive prices even ... Read more »

The best Cyber Monday laptop deal is the Dell XPS 13 for just $649 - and it's live right now

This Dell XPS 13 for just $649.99 (was $949.99) is an incredible offer and might just be the best Cyber Monday deals we’ll see – even though the day itself ... Read more »

The Best Buy Cyber Monday sale is live: here are the 19 best deals you need to see

The Best Buy Cyber Monday sale is up and running, which means you can score epic deals before anyone else on everything from TVs, laptops, and headphones to vacuums, air ... Read more »

Apple Watch SE is almost $60 off again in early Cyber Monday deal

Just before Black Friday, we saw a pretty decent discount on the Apple Watch SE which brought it down from $280 to $220, which was a bit better than the ... Read more »

The best Michael Kors Black Friday deals you can still find on purses, handbags and wallets

— Recommendations are independently chosen by Reviewed’s editors. Purchases you make through our links may earn us a commission. Whether you’re looking to coordinate your style from head to toe ... Read more »

The James Webb space telescope: in search of the secrets of the Milky Way

Photograph: Dotted Zebra/Alamy Billions of dollars over budget and years late, the most expensive, complex telescope to be sent into space will launch next month. What will it learn? In ... Read more »

Notorious Pegasus spyware faces its day of reckoning

Photograph: Amir Levy/Getty Images The infamous hacking tool is now at the centre of international lawsuits thanks to a courageous research lab If you were compiling a list of the ... Read more »

Best Black Friday laptop deals 2021: Offers on Microsoft, HP, Apple Macbooks and more

(Black Friday) When it comes to bagging a serious bargain, there’s really no better time than Black Friday. The annual sales event is one of the biggest days in the ... Read more »

COPY OF 15 Bose Black Friday deals not to miss — save up to $100

We may receive commission from purchases made via links on this page. Pricing and availability are subject to change. It’s a Bose bonanza! Score speakers, headphones, earbuds and more at ... Read more »

Quick! Get Hulu for just 99 cents a month in this unbeatable Cyber Monday offer

Want to try Hulu? Then you can’t ask for better than this Cyber Monday deal, which lets you stream the ad-supported version for just 99 cents per month: a massive ... Read more »

Shop the best REI Cyber Monday sales on outdoor gear, clothes and more

— Recommendations are independently chosen by Reviewed’s editors. Purchases you make through our links may earn us a commission. Looking for the perfect holiday gift for the outdoor enthusiast in ... Read more »

Archaeologists unearth 800-year-old mummy in Peru

A 600-year-old mummy was found in the Mangomarca archaeological site, east of Lima, last year (AFP via Getty Images) Archaeologists have found a mummy estimated to be at least 800 ... Read more »

Best Black Friday AirPods deals 2021: all the biggest sales still live this weekend

Black Friday AirPods deals are still alive and well, even though the official day of sales have come to an end. While we’re already seeing some deals go back to ... Read more »

Gas crisis: Europe could tap into emergency supplies as stocks run low, say experts

So-called ‘cushion gas’ could help alleviate a shortage but its use would prove controversial (Getty Images) Europe may have to tap into emergency gas supplies normally considered off limits because ... Read more »

Four more countries added to red list after Omicron variant found in the UK

(AFP via Getty Images) Four more countries have been added to the red list after a new Covid-19 variant was detected in the UK for the first time. Angola, Mozambique, ... Read more »

Cyber Monday tablet deals 2021: sales on iPads, Galaxy Tabs and more

The Cyber Monday tablet deals are here, although we’re still chronologically closer to Black Friday than its tech-discount-themed counterpart. We could see better tablet deals on Cyber Monday itself, but ... Read more »

The Nothing Ear (1) wireless earbuds appear in black in newly leaked images

The rather oddly named Nothing Ear (1) wireless earbuds have so far only been available in white, but that could be about to change – new image leaks have added ... Read more »

Hulu Black Friday Deal: Get a full year of Hulu for less than $1 per month—but act fast

— Recommendations are independently chosen by Reviewed’s editors. Purchases you make through our links may earn us a commission. Update 9:55 AM EST: Hulu’s Black Friday deal is running right ... Read more »

‘I don't believe it': Anger as Nadine Dorries dismisses MP's allegation of groping by Boris Johnson's father

Nadine Dorries says she does not believe a fellow Conservative MP’s allegation that she was groped by Boris Johnson’s father, sparking anger. Caroline Nokes has accused Stanley Johnson of smacking ... Read more »

The Omicron variant carries a number of genetic mutations that might cause it to spread quickly, even among vaccinated people: report

A healthcare worker collects a swab from Bronwen Cook for a PCR test against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) before traveling to London, at O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, South ... Read more »

These are the best Black Friday tool deals on Milwaukee, Dewalt and more

— Recommendations are independently chosen by Reviewed’s editors. Purchases you make through our links may earn us a commission. Black Friday sales aren’t over yet! For the DIY-ers, from amateur ... Read more »

CCTV shows fierce gun battle between two gangs which left man, 22, dead

CCTV of the shootout in Lozells, Birmingham. (SWNS) Shocking CCTV shows the moment two rival gangs had a gun battle in broad daylight which left a man dead. Naasir Francis, ... Read more »

Experts, activists say health equity needs more emphasis in fight against climate change

Nearly three decades after the world first came together to address climate change, its impact on human health was a focus of talks this month in Glasgow, Scotland. The 26th ... Read more »

A Sam's Club membership for $19.99. Plus a $10 gift card and other freebies for Black Friday

TLDR: Enjoy warehouse store savings with a 1-year membership to Sam’s Club at a Black Friday price that you definitely won’t see every day. With the holiday season here, it’s ... Read more »

Want to develop ethical AI? Then we need more African voices

Artificial intelligence (AI) was once the stuff of science fiction. But it’s becoming widespread. It is used in and . It powers tools for and . But concerns have emerged ... Read more »

If you've ever wanted to learn to be an animator, this package can make it happen

TLDR: The Complete Cartoon Animator 4 Pro Mac Bundle can help turn any budding artist into an experienced and seasoned animator for just $29.99.  You’ve probably seen a behind-the-scenes documentary ... Read more »

Indore Smart City to help DAVV students grow their startups

INDORE: Indore Smart City Seed Incubation Centre has decided to use its expertise in helping Devi Ahilya Vishwa Vidhyalaya (DAVV) students develop their business ideas into successful commercial projects.Indore Smart ... Read more »

Bounce partners with Park+ for battery swap infra

With this infrastructure in place, customers wouldn't have to wait for the scooter to charge, be anxious about the range or remember to charge it, Bounce said. Electric scooter rental ... Read more »

Why Flash Gordon seems a more exciting project for Taika Waititi than Star Wars

Taika Waititi is turning his attentions to the stars. Once he’s got the upcoming Thor: Love and Thunder and sports comedy Next Goal Wins out the way, the in-demand writer, ... Read more »
On free-english-test.com you will find lots of free English exam practice materials to help you improve your English skills: grammar, listening, reading, writing, ielts, toeic