In hydroelectric dominated systems, the value and benefits of energy are higher during extended dry periods and lower during extended or extreme wet periods. By accounting for regional and temporal differences in the relationship between wind speed and reservoir inflow behavior during wind farm site selection, the benefits of energy diversification can be maximized. The goal of this work was to help maximize the value of wind power by quantifying the long-term (30-year) relationships between wind speed and streamflow behavior, using British Columbia (BC) and the Pacific Northwest (PNW) as a case study. Clean energy and self-sufficiency policies in British BC make the benefits of increased generation during low streamflow periods particularly large. Wind density (WD) estimates from a height of 10m (North American Regional Reanalysis, NARR) were correlated with cumulative usable inflows (CUI) for BC (collected from BC Hydro) for 1979–2010. The strongest WD-CUI correlations were found along the US coast (r ~0.55), whereas generally weaker correlations were found in northern regions, with negative correlations (r ~ -0.25) along BC’s North Coast. Furthermore, during the lowest inflow years, WD anomalies increased by up to 40% above average values for the North Coast. Seasonally, high flows during the spring freshet were coincident with widespread negative WD anomalies, with a similar but opposite pattern for low inflow winter months. These poorly or negatively correlated sites could have a moderating influence on climate related variability in provincial electricity supply, by producing greater than average generation in low inflow years and reduced generation in wet years. Wind speed and WD trends were also analyzed for all NARR grid locations, which showed statistically significant positive trends for most of the PNW and the largest increases along the Pacific Coast.
Cross BD, Kohfeld KE, Bailey J, Cooper AB (2015) The Impacts of Wind Speed Trends and 30-Year Variability in Relation to Hydroelectric Reservoir Inflows on Wind Power in the Pacific Northwest. PLoS ONE 10(8): e0135730. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0135730
The Impacts of Wind Speed Trends and 30-Year Variability in Relation to Hydroelectric Reservoir Inflows on Wind Power in the Pacific Northwest
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