CARDIFF – Recent rises in global wind speeds could triple the impact of this renewable energy source within a decade, according to a new international study.

Dr Adrian Chappell from Cardiff University’s School of Earth and Ocean Sciences was among the team of scientists who compiled the study, which reveals that since 2010 a rapid increase in speeds has replaced what was a worrying trend of falling rates, referred to as global terrestrial stilling, of the previous three decades. Published today in the journal Nature Climate Change, the research uses data from 1978 and 2017 taken at more than 9000 weather stations across Europe, North America and Asia. It shows global mean annual wind speed falling 2.3% per decade from 1978 before rising at a rate ‘three times greater than the decreasing rate’ since 2010. On this trajectory, wind power would hit 3.3 million kWh within five years, a jump of 37%.

“This rapid increase in global wind speeds is certainly good news for the power industry,” said Dr Chappell. “The reversal in global terrestrial stilling bodes well for the expansion of large-scale and efficient wind power generation systems in these mid-latitude countries in the near future.”

Dr Chappell added: “The development of renewable energy sources is central to keeping warming below 2oC. One megawatt of wind power reduces 1,300 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions and saves 2,000 litres of water compared with other energy sources.”