The impact of future UK offshore wind farm distribution and climate change on generation performance and variability

Josh Giddings*, Hannah Bloomfield, Rachel James, Michael Blair

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

Abstract

The UK plans to significantly increase offshore wind generation capacity as part of the effort to achieve net zero targets. Current installation is densely located in a few areas, particularly off the east coast of England, and although current siting proposals include new offshore regions, significant volumes of wind generation capacity are yet to be located to meet 2050 installation targets. This paper uses a recent dataset of multi-decadal offshore wind power capacity factor timeseries to assess how UK offshore wind generation is likely to be affected by both the spatial distribution of future wind farms, and by the impacts of near-future (2020–2050) climate change. We determine that a wider geographic spread of offshore capacity results in a much-improved and less-variable UK-aggregated power generation profile, with substantial reductions in periods of low generation and extreme wind power ramping events, without negatively impacting mean or peak generation outputs. The impact of near-term climate change appears to be minor, slightly reducing overall generation and possibly resulting in an underestimation of future installation requirements, but this climate signal is outweighed by the effects of spatial distribution, and even more so by inherent hourly to inter-annual wind speed variability. This study implies that the intermittency of wind generation can be partly mitigated through increasing the spatial diversity of the existing wind farm distribution. Alongside a more in depth investigation of future climate change, and a holistic assessment of relevant geospatial factors such as Levelised Cost of Energy, infrastructure, and environmental constraints, this study could be used for optimisation of future offshore wind siting.
Original languageEnglish
Article number064022
Number of pages15
JournalEnvironmental Research Letters
Volume19
Issue number6
Early online date20 May 2024
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 The Author(s). Published by IOP Publishing Ltd.

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