Wind energy has led the recent growth in renewables-based capacity, and it is expected to continue to be the largest source of renewable energy through to 2030 (GWEC 2016). However, the further expansion of wind-energy production will require, in particular, improved climate predictions that better estimate the changes in wind speed for upcoming seasons, years and decades. This is critical for anticipating wind-energy supplies, which in turn is needed to facilitate the large-scale integration of wind energy into the broader energy system.
Wind energy users have traditionally used weather forecasts from hours to a few days ahead because near-surface winds, and thus wind-energy production, strongly depend on short-term wind-speed fluctuations. However, to guide investments and the selection of wind farm sites over the longer term, as much as a few decades, the wind industry has become increasingly interested in long-term climate projections.
To cover the information gap between one month and up to a decade into the future, the wind energy sector currently assumes that future conditions will be like those of the past. This approach makes it impossible to anticipate events that, seemingly, have never happened before. Fortunately, it is becoming increasingly possible to use probabilistic sub-seasonal to seasonal forecasts to overcome this limitation by providing additional information for wind energy applications.