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Wind Energy Science The interactive open-access journal of the European Academy of Wind Energy
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© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research articles 19 Mar 2019

Research articles | 19 Mar 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Wind Energy Science (WES).

Significant multi-decadal variability of German wind energy generation

Jan Wohland1,2, Nour Eddine Omrani3, Noel Keenlyside3, and Dirk Witthaut1,2 Jan Wohland et al.
  • 1Forschungszentrum Jülich, Institute for Energy and Climate Research – Systems Analysis and Technology Evaluation, 52428 Jülich, Germany
  • 2University of Cologne, Institute for Theoretical Physics, 50937 Cologne, Germany
  • 3University of Bergen, Geophysical Institute and Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research, Bergen, Norway

Abstract. Wind energy has seen large deployment and substantial cost reductions over the last decades. Further ambitious upscaling is urgently needed to keep the goals of the Paris Agreement within reach. While the variability of wind power generation poses a challenge to grid integration, much progress in quantifying, understanding and managing it has been made over the last years. Despite this progress, relevant modes of variability in energy generation have been overlooked. Based on long-term reanalyses of the 20th century, we demonstrate that multi-decadal wind variability has significant impact on wind energy generation in Germany. These modes of variability can not be detected in modern reanalyses that are typically used for energy applications due to their short covered timespan of around 40 years. We show that energy generation over a 20 y wind park lifetime varies by around ± 5 % and the summer-to-winter ratio varies by around ± 15 %. Moreover, ERA-interim based annual and winter generations are biased high as the period 1979–2010 overlaps with a maximum of multi-decadal variability. The induced variations of windpark lifetime revenues are at the order of 10 % with direct implications for profitability. Our results require to rethink energy system design, for example the calculation of optimum shares of different renewable technologies, as a perpetual process.

Jan Wohland et al.
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Jan Wohland et al.
Jan Wohland et al.
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Publications Copernicus
Short summary
Wind park planning and power system design require robust wind resource information. While most assessments are restricted to the last four decades, we use centennial reanalyses to study wind energy generation variability in Germany. We find that statistically significant multi-decadal variability exists. These long-term effects must be considered when planning future highly renewable power systems. Otherwise, there is a risk of inefficient system design and ill-informed investments.
Wind park planning and power system design require robust wind resource information. While most...