1.4 Climate Information Products at the Maghreb Wind Energy Congress
Peter Schmidt - PIK, Germany; Sandro Calmanti - ENEA, Italy
After the first round of stakeholder workshops in Spain, Cyprus, Croatia and Morocco between spring and autumn 2011, the second round of workshops of the CLIM-RUN energy case study started in May 2013. The most important goal to be pursued is to consolidate interactions with stakeholders in the different case-study regions. More particularly, climate information should be disseminated in the form of climate information products which are drafted in line with the stakeholder needs and wants that were identified during the first rounds of workshops in 2011. Ideally, the second workshops should trigger feedback from stakeholders to further define and improve the climate information products.
The Maghreb Wind Energy Congress 2013
From the CLIM-RUN energy case-study team, Sandro Calmanti (ENEA) and Peter Schmidt (PIK) kicked off the second round of workshops in Morocco at the Maghreb Wind Energy Congress. This congress, which took place in Rabat 21/22 May 2013, is the main industry focused wind power event in Morocco. Besides leading investors in wind energy projects in the region (IFC, World Bank, Société Generale), representatives from pioneering companies (Sahara Wind, Valorem Energie) which are working on small and large scale wind energy projects in the Mediterranean region, also key representatives from North African governments (ONE, MASEN) and international associations (IRENA, Dii) attended the Rabat congress. In total, around 300 participants were present. Organizations which were consulted during the first workshops were represented at the congress too. The CLIM-RUN team aimed at consolidating existing contacts with those interested in wind products and engaged with new stakeholders from the wind energy industry to increase the level of feedback on the climate information products.
Strategic stakeholder interactions at two levels
The CLIM-RUN team followed a two-fold dissemination approach to further distribute climate information at the congress. First, the CLIM-RUN project was presented at the Wind Energy Maghreb 2013 speaker session on 22 May. In the same panel, also representatives from Valorem Energie and Lafarge gave presentations on exploring the complexities of wind farm design, siting, planning, and the procedure to get permits for new wind turbines in the MENA region. The CLIM-RUN team outlined the potential of scenarios and forecast data availability at the seasonal to decadal to climatic scale; introduced three climate information prototype products for the wind industry prepared by the CLIMRUN Climate Expert Teams at ENEA (Italy) and IC3 (Spain); and pointed to challenges and potential synergies. One example of the climate products presented is shown in Figure 1, consisting of an analysis of the uncertainty of future wind speed changes at a test site (Rabat). For this product, 20 climate simulations from the ENSEMBLES archive have been considered. The example shows a histogram of the simulated winter and summer wind speed changes for the period 2021-2050, with respect to the period 1961-1990. The other products presented at the conference focus on wind forecasting at seasonal-to-decadal time scale and on the mapping of wind scenarios and are available on the CLIM-RUN web portal.
Figure 1. Histogram of the simulated winter (left panel) and summer (right panel) wind speed changes for the period 2021-2050 with respect to 1961-1990 from 20 high-resolution (25 km) regional climate model simulations from the ENSEMBLES archive (ensemblesrt3.dmi.dk). Positive and negative wind speed changes are highlighted with colours: blue for weaker winds and red for stronger winds. The labels inside each bar indicate the global climate model which drives a regional climate model producing the corresponding wind speed change.
During the subsequent discussion which was attended by 30 participants, questions were raised regarding how e.g. Valorem Energie deals with mid-to long-term wind variability and climatic changes in wind energy project planning. Furthermore, it was asked how CLIM-RUN results could be used for 10 years planning of wind power plants. In both cases the potential relevance of the climate information products was stressed as a potential tool to support mid- to long-term planning in the wind energy industry. The discussion highlighted two main issues. First, the current lack of reliable wind-energy project planning tools which go beyond the short term (i.e. weather time scale, 1-3 days). Second, the challenge to cope with the uncertainties of mid- to long-term wind energy planning tools based on seasonal, decadal, and climate change time scales.
The second strand of our approach consisted of face-to-face discussions with ten stakeholders from the policy and the wind energy related investment sector. Generally, the climate information product sheets were perceived as a step forward towards delivering tailor-made climate information. Yet the usability of the products remains a matter for discussion. The main reason is the high uncertainty involved in forecasting mid- to long-term climate changes and the limitations this has for the bankability of a project. While this is a general concern shared by all stakeholders, it was foremost stressed by representatives from the private finance industry. It was suggested to use regional climate models for long-term backcasting and to adjust the models correspondingly. This could improve the validity of the results from climate models and help to narrow the gap between P90 and P50 values, the main parameters in wind energy production assessments. IRENA proposed to further discuss the potential usefulness of the wind scenario map in the light of developing more advanced wind atlases for the MENA region.
Conclusion and Outlook
The results from stakeholder interactions at the congress clearly indicate a need for tools to better understand changes in temporal and spatial distribution of wind due to climate variability and change. Yet the level of awareness of mid- to long-term climate related risks in the wind energy industry is very low, compared to regulatory and political risks which rank highest.
The Maghreb Wind Energy Congress was a starting point to confront stakeholders with prototypes of climate information products. To make the products usable in the wind energy sector, one of the biggest challenges to overcome is to improve and better define the level of uncertainty in wind scenarios and forecasts. Although the level of detailed, concrete feedback from stakeholders on the climate information products was limited during the conference, all stakeholders agreed upon disseminating and discussing the climate information products within their organization in more detail. Some stakeholders have already shown interest in the wind scenario map in order to explore its potential in the light of further developing wind atlases.
CLIM-RUN invites all interested parties and is looking forward to potential collaborations with stakeholders from the wind energy sector in several areas (e.g. calibration of climate models to specific sites, developing statistics of extremes, identification of critical thresholds).