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Are global wind power resource estimates overstated?

Estimates of the global wind power resource over land range from 56 to 400 TW. Most estimates have implicitly assumed that extraction of wind energy does not alter large-scale winds enough to significantly limit wind power production. Estimates that ignore the effect of wind turbine drag on local winds have assumed that wind power production of 2–4 W m⁻² can be sustained over large areas. New results from a mesoscale model suggest that wind power production is limited to about 1 W m⁻² at wind farm scales larger than about 100 km². We find that the mesoscale model results are quantitatively consistent with results from global models that simulated the climate response to much larger wind power capacities. Wind resource estimates that ignore the effect of wind turbines in slowing large-scale winds may therefore substantially overestimate the wind power resource.

doi:10.1088/1748-9326/8/1/015021 [1]
Environmental Research Letters 8 (2013) 015021

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