Hydropower, Project Development, Wind Power

La Niña to Hike US Wind Production

Based on analysis of 40 years of data, 3Tier predicts that US wind farms will have a “very good” first quarter. The firm described the outlook as “a nice change from the first quarter of 2010, when many US wind projects experienced below average wind speeds due to a strong El Niño effect”.

The La Niña phenomena is characterised by a cooling of surface water temperatures in the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean, while El Niño creates an opposite, warming effect. Both are phases of a larger weather pattern known as ENSO (El Niño/Southern Oscillation).

“Our data show that if the La Niña event persists, as is forecasted by the global climate modeling community, many of the wind projects across the country should have a very good first quarter,” said Pascal Storck, 3TIER’s vice president of Advanced Applications.

3Tier’s prediction map for the first quarter of 2011 is largely red, which corresponds to a probability of higher than average wind speeds.

3Tier’s map, in which a 10% expected rise from normal winds is marked in red.

The company claims its forecasting techniques are accurate enough to be factored into long-term financial planning for wind projects.

“Our clients have responded very positively to our retrospective anomaly maps that show deviations from normal wind for past quarters,” said Storck.

“However, they have also told us that what they really want is a forecast for the next one or two quarters, especially when they are hearing about La Niña and its effects on climate all over the news.”