Design Engineering

Report: Cold climates may hold huge potential for wind energy

By Design Engineering Staff   

General Energy wind turbine

Icy regions of Scandinavia and Canada could expand wind power by 72 percent by 2017

According to a report by applied research organization, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, between 45 and 50 gigawatts of wind energy will be built in cold climates by 2017. That amounts to as much as 72 percent of an increase since the end of 2012 and investments amounting to approximately EUR 75 billion.

“This is a huge opportunity,” says research scientist Tomas Wallenius from VTT. “There has been a lot of talk about the potential of offshore wind power, but the market for cold climate wind energy is more than ten times greater. We already have the tools to harness the potential of cold climate wind energy cost-effectively, while offshore wind energy is still at the research and development stage.”

VTT has conducted the first ever study into the feasibility of building wind turbines across the globe in areas where cold climate and icy conditions place special demands on wind turbine technology. In addition to Scandinavia and Canada, these areas also include parts of Central Europe, the United States and China.

The VTT study, which has been incorporated into the BTM World Market Update 2012 report, says cold climates represent encouraging potential for wind energy companies because of their sparse population and favourable wind conditions. These areas experience higher winds in winter than in summer, and the density of cold air increases production capacity.


However, the report admits turbine blades are highly susceptible to icing. Although icing causes production losses of 3–10 per cent per year, losses can be reduced with the help of anti-icing systems, the report concludes.


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