The impact of climate change on the levelised cost of wind energy
Society's dependence on weather systems has broadened to include electricity generation from wind turbines. Climate change is altering energy flows in the atmosphere, which will affect the economic potential of wind power. Changes to wind resources and their upstream impacts on the energy industry have received limited academic attention, despite their risks earning interest from investors.
We propose a framework for assessing the impact of climate change on the cost of wind energy, going from the change in hourly wind speed distributions from radiative forcing through to energy output and levelised cost of electricity (LCOE) from wind farms. The paper outlines the proof of concept for this framework, exploring the limitations of global climate models for assessing wind resources, and a novel Weibull transfer function to characterise the climate signal.
The framework is demonstrated by considering the UK's wind resources to 2100. Results are mixed: capacity factors increase in some regions and decrease in others, while the year-to-year variation generally increases. This highlights important financial and risk impacts which can be adopted into policy to enhance energy system resilience to the impacts of climate change. We call for greater emphasis to be placed on modelling wind resources in climate science.