A new study about the future of wind power is not going to go over well with environmentalists, but it also isn’t likely to change their minds about our dependence on fossil fuels, either.
Chinese researchers, along with a scientist from Purdue University in Indiana, have examined data from more than 1,000 weather stations around the world and have found that wind energy resources are in sharp decline in many places around the globe.
The primary research team from the Chinese Academy of Sciences found that 67 percent of weather stations recorded decreases in wind power potential over the course of 40 years. The team reached its conclusions after examining wind surface speeds from 1979 to 2016, The Daily Caller reported.
“The results show that surface wind speeds were decreasing in the past four decades over most regions in the Northern Hemisphere,” the study’s authors wrote, according to a Greentech Media report on Wednesday.
In North America, about one-third, or 30 percent, of locations have seen a 30-percent drop or more in available wind power. European locations fared even worse, seeing a 40 percent decline in hub-height wind power.
The worst effects, however, were seen in Asia, where nearly 80 percent of sites on that continent saw a 30 percent fall-off in wind.
Researchers are doing follow-up analyses to try to find out why surface wind speeds have slowed. One researcher, Dr. Gang Huang, theorized that the growth and expansion of large cities may be having some effect, but he stressed that is just a theory.
The Daily Caller noted further:
Another cause could be the expansion of wind energy technology itself. A study published in November found that wind farms upwind from other turbines reduced their electricity generation. This “wake effect,” the study found, reduces wind speed and affects turbines downwind from their direction. The research team from the Chinese Academy of Sciences did find that the most dramatic decreases in wind power in China tended to occur “where a number of gigantic commercial wind farms were built.”
Nevertheless, wind energy continues to grow in the U.S. The Trump administration’s Interior Department recently announced a $405 million offshore wind auction that was far larger than previous amounts.
“To anyone who doubted that our ambitious vision for energy dominance would not include renewables, today we put that rumor to rest,” Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who is resigning in a few days, said earlier this month.
“With bold leadership, faster, streamlined environmental reviews, and a lot of hard work with our states and fishermen, we’ve given the wind industry the confidence to think and bid big,” he added.
Then again, as The Wall Street Journal notes, Zinke is also leaving the agency with a gift for the fossil fuel industry: “The Bureau of Land Management last week took a major step to open up a corner of Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling.”
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