Shifts in wind energy potential following land-use driven vegetation dynamics in complex terrain

Many mountainous regions with high wind energy potential are characterized by multi-scale variabilities of vegetation in both spatial and time dimensions, which strongly affect the spatial distribution of wind resource and its time evolution. To this end, we developed a coupled interdisciplinary modeling framework capable of assessing the shifts in wind energy potential following land-use driven vegetation dynamics in complex mountain terrain. It was applied to a case study area in the Romanian Carpathians. The results show that the overall shifts in wind energy potential following the changes of vegetation pattern due to different land-use policies can be dramatic. This suggests that the planning of wind energy project should be integrated with the land-use planning at a specific site to ensure that the expected energy production of the planned wind farm can be reached over its entire lifetime. Moreover, the changes in the spatial distribution of wind and turbulence under different scenarios of land-use are complex, and they must be taken into account in the micro-siting of wind turbines to maximize wind energy production and minimize fatigue loads (and associated maintenance costs). The proposed new modeling framework offers, for the first time, a powerful tool for assessing long-term variability in local wind energy potential that emerges from land-use change driven vegetation dynamics over complex terrain. Following a previously unexplored pathway of cause-effect relationships, it demonstrates a new linkage of agro- and forest policies in landscape development with an ultimate trade-off between renewable energy production and biodiversity targets. Moreover, it can be extended to study the potential effects of micro-climatic changes associated with wind farms on vegetation development (growth and patterning), which could in turn have a long-term feedback effect on wind resource distribution in mountainous regions.

Published in:
Science of The Total Environment, 639, 374-384
Oct 15 2018
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 Record created 2018-09-04, last modified 2019-05-07

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