The wind energy potential of Iceland

Nikolai Nawri*, Gudrún Nína Petersen, Halldór Bjornsson, Andrea N. Hahmann, Kristján Jónasson, Charlotte Bay Hasager, Niels Erik Clausen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Citations (Scopus)


Downscaling simulations performed with the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model were used to determine the large-scale wind energy potential of Iceland. Local wind speed distributions are represented by Weibull statistics. The shape parameter across Iceland varies between 1.2 and 3.6, with the lowest values indicative of near-exponential distributions at sheltered locations, and the highest values indicative of normal distributions at exposed locations in winter. Compared with summer, average power density in winter is increased throughout Iceland by a factor of 2.0-5.5. In any season, there are also considerable spatial differences in average wind power density. Relative to the average value within 10km of the coast, power density across Iceland varies between 50 and 250%, excluding glaciers, or between 300 and 1500Wm-2 at 50m above ground level in winter. At intermediate elevations of 500-1000m above mean sea level, power density is independent of the distance to the coast. In addition to seasonal and spatial variability, differences in average wind speed and power density also exist for different wind directions. Along the coast in winter, power density of onshore winds is higher by 100-700Wm-2 than that of offshore winds. Based on these results, 14 test sites were selected for more detailed analyses using the Wind Atlas Analysis and Application Program (WAsP).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)290-299
Number of pages10
JournalRenewable Energy
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2014

Other keywords

  • Iceland
  • Mesoscale modelling
  • Wind atlas
  • Wind energy potential
  • Wind resource mapping


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