Wind power is on the rise and a new study shows the world is getting windier

Published: December 10, 2019

Wind turbines in the countryside Photo by KBYC photography/Shutterstock

Donald Trump has famously dismissed wind power, noting (incorrectly) that if the wind isn’t blowing, people can’t watch their favourite TV shows and that wind turbines cause cancer (it does not). But while his ignorance is epic, he’s not alone in his confusion with and resistance to wind power.

In fact, Doug Ford’s government ran on a platform of eliminating some wind energy projects that were already in the process of being constructed, a move that the NDP recently uncovered will cost taxpayers roughly $231 million and leave Ontario more reliant on less sustainable energy sources.

Ford’s Conservatives defend the move, noting that there was vocal opposition to wind projects.

Now, a study recently published in the journal Nature Climate Change examined global wind speed data from the roughly three-plus decades up to 2010. The findings indicate that while, globally, there had been reductions in average surface wind speed—what scientists refer to as global terrestrial stilling—that trend is reversing. Global wind speeds are picking up again, which bodes well for the growing implementation of wind energy.

The study was conducted by a group of researchers from such institutions as Princeton University, the National University of Singapore, Colorado State University, and a number of others, including ones in China. They noted that average wind speeds rose about seven per cent since 2010, particularly in northern mid-latitude regions. What this means, they report, is that wind generation could increase by 37 per cent.

These shifts in wind are the result of circulation patterns of the oceans and atmosphere, say the researchers, not because of urbanization or vegetation growth as previously thought. This increase will likely continue for at least another 10 years.

The researchers summarize their findings by noting that it makes sense to harness wind power to meet the world’s energy needs.

Some countries have invested in substantial wind power generation. Scotland reported in October 2018 that wind power provided 98 per cent of the country’s power, and others, including Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Sweden, Denmark, and China, are boosting their investment in wind and other alternative energy sources. According to the Canadian Wind Energy Association, which represents the industry, Canada supplies about six per cent of its electricity demand with wind energy.

Let’s hope the Ford government begins to recognize which way the wind is blowing and decides to invest in a more sustainable future.

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