The wind appears to be dying down across the United States, according to a first-of-its-kind study that indicates that average and peak winds have been slowing since 1973, particularly in the Midwest and the East, reports Google News.
Study co-author Eugene Takle, a professor of atmospheric science at Iowa State University, said in the article that some places in the Midwest show a 10 percent drop or more over a decade, which translates into an average wind speed of about 10 to 12 miles per hour.
The study’s lead author, Sara Pryor, an atmospheric scientist at Indiana University, also noted in the article that there has been a jump of low or no wind days in the Midwest.
Wind measurements plotted out on U.S. maps by Pryor show wind speeds falling mostly along and east of the Mississippi River, while some areas such as west Texas and parts of the Northern Plains, do not show winds slowing nearly as much, reports Google News. States that show some of the biggest drops in wind speeds include Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Kansas, Virginia, Louisiana, Georgia, northern Maine and western Montana.
The study will be published in August in the peer-reviewed Journal of Geophysical Research. The authors said in the article it’s too early to know if this is a real trend or not due to several issues including changes in wind-measuring instruments over the years, some climate computer models, which are not direct observations, not showing changes, and the growth of trees or new buildings near wind gauges, which could reduce speed measurements.
The authors also said that the information doesn’t provide the definitive proof that science requires to connect reduced wind speeds to global warming.
States like Michigan aren’t worried. Officials in Michigan’s emerging wind power industry said they are not concerned by the study’s findings, according to The Detroit News.
DTE Energy, for example, holds development rights for 70,000 acres in Michigan’s Thumb where it plans to install wind turbines for energy production in the coming years, reports the Detroit newspaper.
Matt Wagner, DTE’s manager of wind site development, said in the article that the company’s plans are based on short-term wind speed research that is targeted in the area where those turbines will be installed. As of now, the Indiana University and Iowa State University study has no impact on wind-based electrical capacity projections.
A new market study by NextGen Research forecasts that global wind-based electrical generation capacity, which totaled just under 121 gigawatts (GW) in 2008, will reach 318.5 GW by 2013.
The study, “Global Wind Power Market: The Outlook for Renewable Energy Generation by Wind Turbines, Wind Farms,” indicates that several factors will fuel this growth over the next five years. These include a boom in China’s renewable energy industry; government support in the form of subsidies, feed-in tariffs and Renewable Portfolio Standards, and international goals for renewable energy usage established under accords like the Kyoto Protocol and the EU’s Renewables Directive.