Why does wind energy become less efficient when used at larger scales? Basic physics explains this effect, starting with a very limited ability of the atmosphere to generate wind energy from radiation, as described in my new review just published.

Wind energy plays an important role in the transition to a carbon-neutral, sustainable energy system and is rapidly expanding. So it is a good time to ask how much wind energy there actually is, whether we get close to the limits anytime soon, and why the efficiency of wind energy must decline when used at larger scales. These are basic science questions: How, and why, does the atmosphere actually generate motion, how much does it generate, and how much of it can at most be used? These questions I address in a review paper just published in which I show that it does not take much physics to answer these.

Continue reading “Why does wind energy become less efficient when used at larger scales? Basic physics explains this effect, starting with a very limited ability of the atmosphere to generate wind energy from radiation, as described in my new review just published.”

How close is German wind energy use to its limit? A quick check using climate data shows that it currently represents a few percent of the maximum, but may get quite close to its limits by 2050.

From time to time I get e-mails asking me about what our work on wind energy limits implies for the German transition to sustainable energy. With the substantial expansion of wind power in Germany over the last decade, are we getting close to the limits of wind energy that the atmosphere can provide? I looked at the latest ERA-5 weather data product to get answers, and instead of just e-mailing answers, I wrote this blogpost as well to share the insights.

Continue reading “How close is German wind energy use to its limit? A quick check using climate data shows that it currently represents a few percent of the maximum, but may get quite close to its limits by 2050.”

AGU Fall Meeting 2020: A brief summary of our contributions and takeways

Corona has impeded everything in 2020 including researchers’ involvement in scientific conferences. However, innovation and the internet made it possible to contribute to large and much anticipated conferences like the AGU Fall Meeting ‘20. Thus, 2 of our PhD researchers, Annu Panwar and Jonathan Minz, presented their scientific results, keeping the spirit of science communication alive, despite tough times.

Continue reading “AGU Fall Meeting 2020: A brief summary of our contributions and takeways”

More wind turbines should lead to less wind and less efficient wind turbines, but how to account for this? We showed that our simple spreadsheet KEBA model is about as good as complex WRF simulations to describe this effect.

Wind energy has seen a tremendous increase over the last decades, a trend that is likely to continue into the future with the transition towards a sustainable energy system. Yet, each wind turbine removes energy from the atmosphere, so the more wind turbines there are within a region, the more wind speeds should decline, making each turbine less efficient. This effect has clearly been shown by atmospheric simulation models (e.g., in our previous work), but this effect has typically not been accounted for in regional to continental wind energy resource estimates and energy scenarios for the future. The effect sounds complicated, so what should be done?

Continue reading “More wind turbines should lead to less wind and less efficient wind turbines, but how to account for this? We showed that our simple spreadsheet KEBA model is about as good as complex WRF simulations to describe this effect.”

More offshore wind energy is likely to reduce turbine efficiencies, but still a lot of renewable energy can be generated. This is what a new @AgoraEW study shows to which we contributed.

Winds over the ocean typically have higher wind speeds, resulting in high efficiencies of wind turbines and making this an attractive environment for generating a lot of renewable energy.  But how efficient are turbines going to be when offshore wind farms become larger and larger? Continue reading “More offshore wind energy is likely to reduce turbine efficiencies, but still a lot of renewable energy can be generated. This is what a new @AgoraEW study shows to which we contributed.”