Advanced Search

Potential Climatic Impacts and Reliability of Very Large-Scale Wind Farms

Research and Teaching Output of the MIT Community

Show simple item record Prinn, Ronald G. Wang, Chien 2009-11-25T15:59:17Z 2009-11-25T15:59:17Z 2009-06
dc.description Abstract and PDF report are also available on the MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change website ( en
dc.description.abstract Meeting future world energy needs while addressing climate change requires large-scale deployment of low or zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emission technologies such as wind energy. The widespread availability of wind power has fueled legitimate interest in this renewable energy source as one of the needed technologies. For very large-scale utilization of this resource, there are however potential environmental impacts, and also problems arising from its inherent intermittency, in addition to the present need to lower unit costs. To explore some of these issues, we use a threedimensional climate model to simulate the potential climate effects associated with installation of wind-powered generators over vast areas of land or coastal ocean. Using windmills to meet 10% or more of global energy demand in 2100, could cause surface warming exceeding 1oC over land installations. In contrast, surface cooling exceeding 1oC is computed over ocean installations, but the validity of simulating the impacts of windmills by simply increasing the ocean surface drag needs further study. Significant warming or cooling remote from both the land and ocean installations, and alterations of the global distributions of rainfall and clouds also occur. These results are influenced by the competing effects of increases in roughness and decreases in wind speed on near-surface turbulent heat fluxes, the differing nature of land and ocean surface friction, and the dimensions of the installations parallel and perpendicular to the prevailing winds. These results are also dependent on the accuracy of the model used, and the realism of the methods applied to simulate windmills. Additional theory and new field observations will be required for their ultimate validation. Intermittency of wind power on daily, monthly and longer time scales as computed in these simulations and inferred from meteorological observations, poses a demand for one or more options to ensure reliability, including backup generation capacity, very long distance power transmission lines, and onsite energy storage, each with specific economic and/or technological challenges. en
dc.description.sponsorship This study received support from the MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change, which is funded by a consortium of government, industry and foundation sponsors. en
dc.language.iso en_US en
dc.publisher MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change en
dc.relation.ispartofseries ;Report no. 175
dc.title Potential Climatic Impacts and Reliability of Very Large-Scale Wind Farms en
dc.type Technical Report en
dc.identifier.citation Report no. 175 en

Files in this item

Name Size Format Description
MITJPSPGC_Rpt175.pdf 2.792Mb PDF

This item appears in the following Collection(s)

Show simple item record