As climate change continues to warm temperatures in Europe, we’ll be in for a rough ride. Increasingly erratic weather patterns will cause some crops to fail. A changing climate will wreak havoc with fragile ecosystems. Warmer weather will enable species from the south to penetrate ever further north, causing a cascade of deleterious effects to local environments.
But not all will be for the worse. An increase in average temperatures will cause the United Kingdom and parts of northern Europe such as Germany and Poland to become a lot windier. That will be a boon to wind energy generation, say researchers from the British Antarctic Survey, Oxford University and the University of Bristol.
If global temperatures reach 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, the United Kingdom might see as much as a 10% increase in onshore wind energy generation, the researchers say based on a new study. That would be enough to power an extra 700,000 homes every year based on current installed capacity. And that’s without even considering a boost to offshore wind power generation.
At present wind energy accounts for 18% of total energy-generating capacity in Europe. Plans are underway to boost that portion to 27% by 2030. However, wind is a highly variable energy source, depending as it does on the often capricious nature of winds. An ability to project wind patterns in certain areas reliably is an important factor in planning new wind farms.
That is why studies like this one can help point the way forward for the industry on the continent. “In future, nine months of the year could see UK wind turbines generating electricity at levels currently only seen in winter,” says lead author Scott Hosking, a climate modeler at the British Antarctic Survey. “Future summers could see the largest increase in wind generation. Therefore, wind could provide a greater proportion of the UK’s energy mix than has been previously assumed.”