Washington: Rapid climate change may be causing a slow decline in India's wind power potential, a recent study suggests.
India, the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases behind China and the United States, is investing billions in wind power and has set the ambitious goal to double its wind power capacity in the next five years. The majority of wind turbines are being built in southern and western India to best capture the winds of the summer Indian monsoon, the seasonal weather pattern then brings heavy rains and winds to the Indian subcontinent.
However, the researchers found that the Indian monsoon is weakening as a result of warming waters in the Indian Ocean, leading to a steady decline in wind-generated power.
"We found that although India is investing heavily in wind power to tackle climate change and air pollution issues, the benefits of these substantial investments are vulnerable to the changing climate," said Meng Gao, first author of the study.
The research, published in Science Advances, calculates the wind power potential in India over the past four decades and found that trends in wind power are tied to the strength of the Indian Summer Monsoon. In fact, 63 percent of the annual energy production from wind in India comes from the monsoon winds of spring and summer. Over the past 40 years, that energy potential has declined by about 13 percent, suggesting that as the monsoon weakened, wind power systems installed during this time became less productive.
Western India, including Rajasthan and Maharashtra, where investment in wind power is the highest, has seen the steepest decline over the time. However, other regions, particularly in eastern India, saw smaller or no decline.