10 Nov 2023
 | 10 Nov 2023
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal WES.

Estimating the technical wind energy potential of Kansas that incorporates the atmospheric response for policy applications

Jonathan Minz, Axel Kleidon, and Nsilulu Tresor Mbungu

Abstract. Energy scenarios and transition pathways require estimates of achievable technical wind energy potentials to evaluate the integration of large scale wind energy into the electrical grid. Technical potential refers to the projected electrical generation from regional scale wind turbine deployments, while accounting for the actual area available, turbine characteristics, losses from inter-turbine interactions and energy conversion. These are distinct from resource potentials for wind park planning and layout and are estimated using a typical approach in which the turbines’ power curves are forced by either observed or modeled hub-height wind speeds. This approach, which we refer to as the standard approach, implicitly assumes minimal impacts of large scale wind energy generation on the regional wind resource and, thus, fixes the impacts of associated generation losses on technical potential to 10 %. However, the depletion of wind resource or the reduction in wind speed scales with the total capacity installed within the deployment. Therefore, the standard approach overestimates the technical potential relative to estimates that are derived using Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) models with interactive wind farm parameterizations. Here, we test the extent to which these impacts of wind resource depletion on technical potential can be captured by using our KE Budget of the Atmosphere (KEBA) approach over Kansas(USA) for a range of hypothetical deployment scenarios. KEBA estimates wind resource depletion impacts by accounting for the kinetic energy (KE) removed by the turbines from the boundary layer budget. We first evaluate its ability to replicate the numerically projected diurnal variations in wind resource depletion and then account for the change in technical potential. KEBA captures the projected diurnal variations in to within 5 and 22 % during day and night, respectively, whereas the standard approach projects no impact. Nighttime variation is underestimated by KEBA due to stability effects. Overall, KEBA is able to reproduce the WRF simulated technical potential of Kansas within about 10 %, with the WRF potential being around 50 % lower than the standard approach. Despite this, the WRF estimated potential of Kansas remains about 3 to 5 times the total energy consumed in the state in 2018. KEBA is a simple yet adequate approach to estimating technical potentials, and highlights the wind resource depletion effects that will occur from regional-scale wind deployment.

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Jonathan Minz, Axel Kleidon, and Nsilulu Tresor Mbungu

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on wes-2023-82', Anonymous Referee #1, 19 Dec 2023
  • RC2: 'Comment on wes-2023-82', Anonymous Referee #2, 05 Feb 2024
Jonathan Minz, Axel Kleidon, and Nsilulu Tresor Mbungu
Jonathan Minz, Axel Kleidon, and Nsilulu Tresor Mbungu


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Short summary
Estimates of power output from regional wind turbine deployments in energy scenarios assume that that the impact impact of the atmospheric feedback on them is minimal. But, numerical models show that the impact is large at the proposed scales of future deployment. We show that this is impact can be captured by accounting only for the kinetic energy removed by turbine from the atmosphere. This can be easily applied to energy scenarios and leads to more physically representative estimates.