Complementarity of wind and solar power in North Africa: Potential for alleviating energy droughts and impacts of the North Atlantic Oscillation

Jurasz, J., Guezgouz, M., Campana, P.E., Kaźmierczak, B., Kuriqi, A., Bloomfield, H., Hingray, B., Canales, F.A., et al. (2024). Complementarity of wind and solar power in North Africa: Potential for alleviating energy droughts and impacts of the North Atlantic Oscillation. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 191 e114181.

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With growing gas and oil prices, electricity generation based on these fossil fuels is becoming increasingly expensive. Furthermore, the vision of natural gas as a transition fuel is subject to many constraints and uncertainties of economic, environmental, and geopolitical nature. Consequently, renewable energies such as solar and wind power are expected to reach new records of installed capacity over the upcoming years. Considering the above, North Africa is one of the regions with the largest renewable resource potential globally. While extensively studied in the literature, these resources remain underutilized. Thus, to contribute to their future successful deployment and integration with the power system, this study presents a spatial and temporal analysis of the nature of solar and wind resources over North Africa from the perspective of energy droughts. Both the frequency and maximal duration of energy droughts are addressed. Both aspects of renewables’ variable nature have been evaluated in the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) context. The analysis considers the period between 1960 and 2020 based on hourly reanalysis data (i.e., near-surface shortwave irradiation, wind speed, and air temperature) and the Hurrel NAO index. The findings show an in-phase relationship between solar power and winter NAO index, particularly over the coastal regions in western North Africa and opposite patterns in its eastern part. For wind energy, the connection with NAO has a more zonal pattern, with negative correlations in the north and positive correlations in the south. Solar energy droughts dominate northern Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco, while wind energy droughts mainly occur in the Atlas Mountains range. On average, solar energy droughts tend not to exceed 2–3 consecutive days, with the longest extending for five days. Wind energy droughts can be as prolonged as 80 days (Atlas Mountains). Hybridizing solar and wind energy reduces the potential for energy droughts significantly. At the same time, the correlation between their occurrence and the NAO index remains low. These findings show the potential for substantial resilience to inter-annual climate variability, which could benefit the future stability of renewables-dominated power systems.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Climate resilience, Energy transition, Hurrel NAO index, Hybrid energy system, Renewable energy
Research Programs: Energy, Climate, and Environment (ECE)
Energy, Climate, and Environment (ECE) > Sustainable Service Systems (S3)
Depositing User: Luke Kirwan
Date Deposited: 18 Dec 2023 10:06
Last Modified: 18 Dec 2023 10:06

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