James F. Manwell, a professor in the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (MIE) Department and the director of the UMass Wind Energy Center, is a member of the United Nations Wind Energy Sub-group of the Expert Group on Resource Management (EGRM), which recently drafted a key UN document to apply standard international specifications to wind energy resources everywhere.
The document is titled “Specifications for the Application of the United Nations Framework Classification for Resources (UNFC) to Wind Energy Resources.” Besides Manwell, another member of the Wind Energy Sub-group of the EGRM is MIE and Wind Energy Center alumnus Taylor Geer, now at DNV GL, an international accredited registrar and classification society headquartered in Høvik, Norway.
As the EGRM website explained, “Growing awareness and interest in renewable energy resources, including wind energy resources, has highlighted a need to standardize how renewable energy potential is classified and reported. Reporting of wind energy resources in a consistent and comparable manner to other forms of energy will aid with the policy formulation, national and corporate resources management, and provide a comparable basis for financing energy projects.”
The only comprehensive international standard for that purpose is the UNFC. The UNFC taxonomy is structured around socio-economic and environmental viability, technical readiness, and confidence in estimates of the energy potential. In that context, as the UN press release said, “Wind energy standards for UNFC have recently been developed and are available for public comment.”
The UN release explained that the renewable energy industry has grown significantly in the last few decades and today supplies almost a fifth of total primary energy demand. The contribution of renewables, especially wind energy, will continue to rise over the coming years. In 2018, 171 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy capacity, of which 49 GW was from wind energy projects, was added worldwide.
“The wind energy standards are intended to be clear, user-friendly, and consistent with UNFC principles,” said Markus Klingbeil, chair of the Wind Energy Sub-group of EGRM. “Estimation and classification of wind energy resources are crucial for governments, companies, and potential financiers and provide a robust basis for comparison of all energy resources.”
According to the UN press release, wind energy now has 564 GW of global installed power-generation capacity. Falling costs, political will, and social pressure for a more sustainable energy mix to try to mitigate climate change are some of the factors driving the rapid expansion of wind energy. China, the United States, Brazil, France, Germany, India, and the United Kingdom are the leaders in wind energy expansion.
“Growing awareness and interest in wind energy resources has highlighted a need to standardize its classification and reporting,” said Frank Denelle, chair of the EGRM Renewable Energy Working Group. “We hope that the inclusion of wind energy specifications within UNFC will facilitate the appreciation of the potential role wind energy will play in future.”
For more information on UNFC and its application to wind energy visit: https://www.unece.org/energy/se/reserves.html. (June 2019)