Understanding the Weather Behind a Down Year for Wind Energy

Source: Inside Climate News


For the first time in more than a decade, the United States had a decrease in utility-scale electricity generation from renewable sources in 2023, according to the Energy Information Administration.

The decrease was small—0.8 percent—but it’s still significant considering substantial growth is considered “normal.”

It turns out that the big issue behind the drop in renewable energy generation was weather, including drought and a lack of strong winds.

“I’ve been forecasting for 27 years, and it’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen,” Mike Augustyniak, director of meteorology at a television station in Minneapolis, said.

He was referring to a high pressure weather system that parked over Canada for much of last summer, helping to block warm fronts and cold fronts— and the stronger winds associated with them—that usually would flow across much of Canada and the Upper Midwest.

For people on the ground, a high pressure system feels pretty good, with low humidity and a low chance of precipitation, Augustyniak said. But if it goes on too long, things go awry.

“We’ve just baked all the moisture out of the earth, because we did not have any rainfall to replace what would normally kind of evaporate during a nice sunny day,” he said.

Read more: Understanding the Weather Behind a Down Year for Wind Energy