We consider the impact of climate change on the wind energy resource of Ireland using an ensemble of Regional Climate Model (RCM) simulations. The RCM dynamically downscales the coarse information provided by the Global Climate Models (GCMs) and provides high resolution information, on a subdomain covering Ireland. The RCM used in this work is the Rossby Center's RCM (RCA3).
The RCA3 model is evaluated by performing simulations of the past Irish climate, driven by European Center for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts ERA-40 data, and by comparing the output to observations. Results confirm that the output of the RCA3 model exhibits reasonable and realistic features as documented in the historical wind data record. For the investigation of the influence of the future climate under different climate scenarios, the Max Plank Institute's GCM, European Center Hamburg Model, is used to drive the RCA3 model. Simulations are run for a control period 1961-2000 and future period 2021-2060. The future climate was simulated using the four Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change emission scenarios A1B, A2, B1 and B2. The results for the downscaled simulations show a substantial overall increase in the energy content of the wind for the future winter months and a decrease during the summer months. The projected changes for summer and winter were found to be statistically significant over most of Ireland. However, the projected changes should be viewed with caution since the climate change signal is of similar magnitude to the variability of the evaluation and control simulations. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.