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Effects of turbine technology and land use on wind power resource potential


Estimates of wind power potential are relevant for decision-making in energy policy and business. Such estimates are affected by several uncertain assumptions, most significantly related to wind turbine technology and land use. Here, we calculate the technical and economic onshore wind power potentials with the aim to evaluate the impact of such assumptions using the case-study area of Finland as an example. We show that the assumptions regarding turbine technology and land use policy are highly significant for the potential estimate. Modern turbines with lower specific ratings and greater hub heights improve the wind power potential considerably, even though it was assumed that the larger rotors decrease the installation density and increase the turbine investment costs. New technology also decreases the impact of strict land use policies. Uncertainty in estimating the cost of wind power technology limits the accuracy of assessing economic wind power potential.

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Fig. 1: Histogram of specific investment costs.
Fig. 2: Economic wind power potential and marginal cost uncertainty.
Fig. 3: Impact of the maximum hub height on the economic wind power potential.
Fig. 4: Parametric sensitivity of the wind power potential.


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This work was supported by the Strategic Research Council at the Academy of Finland, project ‘Transition to a resource efficient and climate neutral electricity system (EL-TRAN)’, grant no. 314319. We thank E. Peltola and P. Antikainen at the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland for the buffer radius estimates around miscellaneous land use functions (Supplementary Table 2).

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E.R. made the analysis, wrote the draft manuscript and was responsible for the final manuscript. H.H. and J.K. participated in the study design and in the writing of the manuscript. S.R. calculated the distances to roads and transmission grids and assessed icing losses, and also developed the methodology for calculating grid connection costs. All the authors commented on the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Erkka Rinne.

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Supplementary Figures 1–3, Supplementary Tables 1–5, Supplementary References

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Rinne, E., Holttinen, H., Kiviluoma, J. et al. Effects of turbine technology and land use on wind power resource potential. Nat Energy 3, 494–500 (2018).

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