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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Geographical variability of summer-and winter-dominant onshore wind

Published Web Location Commons 'BY-NC-ND' version 4.0 license

For each geographical region, one of the biggest challenges in reaching a zero-carbon grid is identifying sources of electricity that match the seasonal profile of the load. Summer-dominant solar electricity generation can often be balanced by winter-dominant wind electricity generation. Together with long-duration storage, balanced solar and wind generation are well positioned to provide reliable renewable electricity. However, in some locations the wind may not complement solar energy so well. For example, currently California's wind turbines produce more electricity during summer than winter, raising the question of whether all future wind plants in California will exhibit the same seasonality. As a response to this question, in this paper, we analyzed the generation from existing California wind plants and simulated potential onshore wind resource for the whole state using a metric that reflects the relative wind resource in winter. Our results indicate that the seasonality of the wind can vary for very small spatial difference with more than half of California showing stronger wind resource in the winter compared with the summer despite the current observation of the opposite trend. This study differentiates the seasonality of potential wind resources to inform the creation of a reliable, 100%-renewable-driven grid.

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