The resilience of Australian wind energy to climate change. Environmental Research Letters.

Evans, J.P., M. Kay, P. Abhnil and A. Pitman
Environmental Research Letters, 13(2), 024014, doi: 10.1088/1748-9326/aaa632, 2018.


◦The Paris Agreement limits global average temperature rise to 2 C and commits to pursuing efforts in limiting warming to 1.5 ◦ C above pre-industrial levels. This will require rapid reductions in the emissions of greenhouse gases and the eventual decarbonisation of the global economy. Wind energy is an established technology to help achieve emissions reductions, with a cumulative global installed capacity of ∼486 GW (2016). Focusing on Australia, we assess the future economic viability of wind energy using a 12-member ensemble of high-resolution regional climate simulations forced by Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP) output. We examine both near future (around 2030) and far future (around 2070) changes. Extractable wind power changes vary across the continent, though the most spatially coherent change is a small but significant decrease across southern regions. The cost of future wind energy generation, measured via the Levelised Cost of Energy (LCOE), increases negligibly in the future in regions with significant existing installed capacity. Technological developments in wind energy generation more than compensate for projected small reductions in wind, decreasing the LCOE by around 30%. These developments ensure viability for existing wind farms, and enhance the economic viability of proposed wind farms in Western Australian and Tasmania. Wind energy is therefore a resilient source of electricity over most of Australia and technological innovation entering the market will open new regions for energy production in the future.

Key Figure

Figure 3. The current (top panel) and future (bottom) levelized cost of energy (LCOE) for the present day (1990–2009) and near future (2020–2039). The red lines represent current transmission line. Blue star points represent the existing and purple circles represent proposed wind farms. These maps were created using Python 2.7.13 (

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