08 Nov 2023
 | 08 Nov 2023
Status: this preprint is open for discussion.

Extrapolation is not enough: Impacts of extreme land-use change on wind profiles and wind energy according to regional climate models

Jan Wohland, Peter Hoffmann, Daniela C. A. Lima, Marcus Breil, Olivier Asselin, and Diana Rechid

Abstract. Humans change the climate in many ways. In addition to greenhouse gases, climate model inputs thus include a number of other forcings like land-use change. While studies typically investigate the joint effects of all forcings, we here isolate the impact of afforestation and deforestation on winds in the lowermost 350 m of the atmosphere to quantify the relevance of the lower boundary condition for large-scale wind energy assessments. We use vertically resolved sub-daily output from two regional climate models instead of extrapolating near-surface winds with simplified profiles. Comparing two extreme scenarios, we report that afforestation reduces wind speeds by more than 1 m/s in many locations across Europe even 300 m above ground and thus remains relevant at hub heights of current and future wind turbines. We show that standard extrapolation with modified parameters approximates long-term means well but fails to capture essential spatio-temporal details, such as changes in the daily cycle, and is thus insufficient to estimate wind energy potentials. Using adjacent climate model levels to account for spatio-temporal wind profile complexity, we report that wind energy capacity factors are strongly impacted by afforestation and deforestation: they differ by more than 0.1 in absolute terms and up to 50 % in relative terms. Our results confirm earlier studies that land use change impacts on wind energy can be severe and that they are generally misrepresented with common extrapolation techniques.

Jan Wohland et al.

Status: open (until 20 Dec 2023)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse

Jan Wohland et al.


Total article views: 104 (including HTML, PDF, and XML)
HTML PDF XML Total Supplement BibTeX EndNote
72 26 6 104 9 2 1
  • HTML: 72
  • PDF: 26
  • XML: 6
  • Total: 104
  • Supplement: 9
  • BibTeX: 2
  • EndNote: 1
Views and downloads (calculated since 08 Nov 2023)
Cumulative views and downloads (calculated since 08 Nov 2023)

Viewed (geographical distribution)

Total article views: 91 (including HTML, PDF, and XML) Thereof 91 with geography defined and 0 with unknown origin.
Country # Views %
  • 1
Latest update: 28 Nov 2023
Short summary
We evaluate how winds change when humans grow or cut down forests. Our analysis draws from climate model simulations with extreme scenarios where Europe is either fully forested or covered with grass. We find that the effect of land-use change on wind energy is very important: wind energy potentials are twice as high above grass as compared to forest in some locations. Our results imply that wind profile changes should be better incorporated in climate change assessments for wind energy.