Evaluation of Global Onshore Wind Energy Potential and Generation Costs
In this study, we develop an updated global estimate of onshore wind energy potential using reanalysis wind speed data, along with updated wind turbine technology performance, land suitability factors, cost assumptions, and explicit consideration of transmission distance in the calculation of transmission costs. We find that wind has the potential to supply a significant portion of the world energy needs, although this potential varies substantially by region and with assumptions such as on what types of land can be used to site wind farms. Total global economic wind potential under central assumptions, that is, intermediate between optimistic and pessimistic, is estimated to be approximately 119.5 petawatt hours per year (13.6 TW) at less than 9 cents/kWh. A sens
itivity analysis of eight key parameters is presented. Wind potential is sensitive to a number of input parameters, particularly wind speed (varying by −70% to +450% at less than 9 cents/kWh), land suitability (by −55% to +25%), turbine density (by −60% to +80%), and cost and financing options (by −20% to +200%), many of which have important policy implications. As a result of sensitivities studied here we suggest that further research intended to inform wind supply curve development focus not purely on physical science, such as better resolved wind maps, but also on these less well-defined factors, such as land-suitability, that will also have an impact on the long-term role of wind power.