The intensity of wind blowing across the northern part of Europe has dropped by as much as 15 percent on average in the current year in some locations, according to statistics compiled by Vortex, which is an independent weather modelling business. The reason for the drop is unclear to scientists, although one likely explanation is a condition called global stilling. The average surface wind speed has decreased as a result of climate change.
“Near-surface wind speed patterns around the world have revealed that winds have generally decreased overland over the previous few decades,” said Paul Williams, Atmospheric Science’s professor at University of Reading. “Rather than being cyclic, this demonstrates that the phenomenon is part of a valid long-term pattern.” One explanation, according to Williams, is that the “human-caused changing climate is warming the poles faster than the tropics in the lower atmosphere.” “By reducing the mid-latitude north-south temperature differential, this would reduce the thermal wind at the low altitudes.”
Estimates from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change back up this trend. Wind speeds in northern, western, and central Europe are anticipated to reduce by as high as 10 percent in summer months by 2100, depending on 1.5 °C over the pre-industrial levels. Less wind does have a direct effect on the quantity of electricity generated by Europe’s many wind turbines.
In March of 2021, the United Kingdom experienced its longest run of the poor wind output in nearly a decade. Between February 26 and March 8, as per Drax, the power-generating company, output power as a percent of cumulative installed capacity averaged around 11%. This contributed to less than a 4th of average for the 2 months before and after this period.
On September 6, wind-generated just 2.5 percent of the electricity generated in the UK, compared to the average of 18% the previous year. To make up for the shortfall, two units at the West Burton A, which is one of the UK’s last big coal-fired power stations, got turned on. This trend jeopardizes the UK’s goal to become carbon-neutral in electricity generation by the year 2035, as it does rely on fossil fuels to cover its energy needs.
In the United Kingdom, gas currently accounts for roughly 40% of overall electricity generation. Last week, gas became an expensive option to the renewable energy sources due to increased demand from economies recuperating from the epidemic, along with the lower-than-usual European gas inventories. Despite the fall in wind power, an assessment by the impartial Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air found that between July and September, the power generation from the zero-carbon sources spared the EU €33 billion in gas expenses.