skip to main content

This content will become publicly available on December 1, 2022

Title: The implications of uncertain renewable resource potentials for global wind and solar electricity projections
Abstract Studies exploring long-term energy system transitions rely on resource cost-supply curves derived from estimates of renewable energy (RE) potentials to generate wind and solar power projections. However, estimates of RE potentials are characterized by large uncertainties stemming from methodological assumptions that vary across studies, including factors such as the suitability of land and the performance and configuration of technology. Based on a synthesis of modeling approaches and parameter values used in prior studies, we explore the implications of these uncertain assumptions for onshore wind and solar photovoltaic electricity generation projections globally using the Global Change Analysis Model. We show that variability in parametric assumptions related to land use (e.g. land suitability) are responsible for the most substantial uncertainty in both wind and solar generation projections. Additionally, assumptions about the average turbine installation density and turbine technology are responsible for substantial uncertainty in wind generation projections. Under scenarios that account for climate impacts on wind and solar energy, we find that these parametric uncertainties are far more significant than those emerging from differences in climate models and scenarios in a global assessment, but uncertainty surrounding climate impacts (across models and scenarios) have significant effects regionally, especially for wind. Our analysis more » suggests the need for studies focusing on long-term energy system transitions to account for this uncertainty. « less
; ; ; ; ; ;
Award ID(s):
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Environmental Research Letters
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. A variety of methods have been proposed to assist the integration of microgrid in flow shop systems with the goal of attaining eco-friendly operations. There is still a lack of integrated planning models in which renewable portfolio, microgrid capacity and production plan are jointly optimized under power demand and generation uncertainty. This paper aims to develop a two-stage, mixed-integer programming model to minimize the levelized cost of energy of a flow shop powered by onsite renewables. The first stage minimizes the annual energy use subject to a job throughput requirement. The second stage aims at sizing wind turbine, solar panelsmore »and battery units to meet the hourly electricity needs during a year. Climate analytics are employed to characterize the stochastic wind and solar capacity factor on an hourly basis. The model is tested in four locations with a wide range of climate conditions. Three managerial insights are derived from the numerical experiments. First, time-of-use tariff significantly stimulates the wind penetration in locations with medium or low wind speed. Second, regardless of the climate conditions, large-scale battery storage units are preferred under time-of-use rate but it is not the case under a net metering policy. Third, wind- and solar-based microgrid is scalable and capable of meeting short-term demand variation and long-term load growth with a stable energy cost rate.« less
  2. Abstract. Land models are essential tools for understanding and predicting terrestrial processes and climate–carbon feedbacks in the Earth system, but uncertainties in their future projections are poorly understood. Improvements in physical process realism and the representation of human influence arguably make models more comparable to reality but also increase the degrees of freedom in model configuration, leading to increased parametric uncertainty in projections. In this work we design and implement a machine learning approach to globally calibrate a subset of the parameters of the Community Land Model, version 5 (CLM5) to observations of carbon and water fluxes. We focus onmore »parameters controlling biophysical features such as surface energy balance, hydrology, and carbon uptake. We first use parameter sensitivity simulations and a combination of objective metrics including ranked global mean sensitivity to multiple output variables and non-overlapping spatial pattern responses between parameters to narrow the parameter space and determine a subset of important CLM5 biophysical parameters for further analysis. Using a perturbed parameter ensemble, we then train a series of artificial feed-forward neural networks to emulate CLM5 output given parameter values as input. We use annual mean globally aggregated spatial variability in carbon and water fluxes as our emulation and calibration targets. Validation and out-of-sample tests are used to assess the predictive skill of the networks, and we utilize permutation feature importance and partial dependence methods to better interpret the results. The trained networks are then used to estimate global optimal parameter values with greater computational efficiency than achieved by hand tuning efforts and increased spatial scale relative to previous studies optimizing at a single site. By developing this methodology, our framework can help quantify the contribution of parameter uncertainty to overall uncertainty in land model projections.« less
  3. The Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model has been extensively used for wind energy applications, and current releases include a scheme that can be applied to examine the effects of wind turbine arrays on the atmospheric flow and electricity generation from wind turbines. Herein we present a high-resolution simulation using two different wind farm parameterizations: 1) the “Fitch” parameterization that is included in WRF releases and 2) the recently developed Explicit Wake Parameterization (EWP) scheme. We compare the schemes using a single yearlong simulation for a domain centered on the highest density of current turbine deployments in the contiguous Unitedmore »States (Iowa). Pairwise analyses are applied to diagnose the downstream wake effects and impact of wind turbine arrays on near-surface climate conditions. On average, use of the EWP scheme results in small-magnitude wake effects within wind farm arrays and faster recovery of full WT array wakes. This in turn leads to smaller impacts on near-surface climate variables and reduced array–array interactions, which at a systemwide scale lead to summertime capacity factors (i.e., the electrical power produced relative to nameplate installed capacity) that are 2%–3% higher than those from the more commonly applied Fitch parameterization. It is currently not possible to make recommendations with regard to which wind farm parameterization exhibits higher fidelity or to draw inferences with regard to whether the relative performance may vary with prevailing climate conditions and/or wind turbine deployment configuration. However, the sensitivities documented herein to the wind farm parameterization are of sufficient magnitude to potentially influence wind turbine array siting decisions. Thus, our research findings imply high value in undertaking combined long-term high-fidelity observational studies in support of model validation and verification.

    « less
  4. Abstract

    Nine in ten major outages in the US have been caused by hurricanes. Long-term outage risk is a function of climate change-triggered shifts in hurricane frequency and intensity; yet projections of both remain highly uncertain. However, outage risk models do not account for the epistemic uncertainties in physics-based hurricane projections under climate change, largely due to the extreme computational complexity. Instead they use simple probabilistic assumptions to model such uncertainties. Here, we propose a transparent and efficient framework to, for the first time, bridge the physics-based hurricane projections and intricate outage risk models. We find that uncertainty in projectionsmore »of the frequency of weaker storms explains over 95% of the uncertainty in outage projections; thus, reducing this uncertainty will greatly improve outage risk management. We also show that the expected annual fraction of affected customers exhibits large variances, warranting the adoption of robust resilience investment strategies and climate-informed regulatory frameworks.

    « less
  5. Abstract

    Impacts from current and future wind turbine (WT) deployments necessary to achieve 20% electricity from wind are analyzed using high resolution numerical simulations over the eastern USA. Theoretical scenarios for future deployments are based on repowering (i.e. replacing with higher capacity WTs) thus avoiding competition for land. Simulations for the contemporary climate and current WT deployments exhibit good agreement with observed electricity generation efficiency (gross capacity factors (CF) from simulations = 45–48%, while net CF for WT installed in 2016 = 42.5%). Under the scenario of quadrupled installed capacity there is a small decrease in system-wide efficiency as indicated by annual mean CF.more »This difference is approximately equal to that from the two simulation years and may reflect saturation of the wind resource in some areas. WT modify the local near-surface climate in the grid cells where they are deployed. The simulated impact on near-surface climate properties at both the regional and local scales does not increase with increasing WT installed capacity. Climate impacts from WT are modest compared to regional changes induced by historical changes in land cover and to the global temperature perturbation induced by use of coal to generate an equivalent amount of electricity.

    « less