Climate change is a profoundly unpredictable process which makes it difficult for weather models to correctly identify which renewable energy infrastructure should be built where. That said, there are promising developments which aid both climate-resilient development and the deployment of renewable technologies.
Jamaica installed automated weather stations that will collect real-time weather data nationwide. This initiative will help meteorologists across the entire Caribbean better predict future weather, which in turn supports the development of renewable energy systems.
So will a new climate model developed by my colleagues at the University of the West Indies. The system, called SMASH, can aid planners in siting wind farms and predicting the path and severity of the hurricanes that could mangle turbines.
A new Caribbean drought atlas from Cornell University has compiled climate data going back to 1950. The tool has application outside of food production by providing engineers precipitation data that’s critical to planning hydropower enterprises.
Cutting-edge hydropower plants that run on urban wastewater may one day also address the current limitations of hydropower in the Caribbean. Many small islands lack the big rushing rivers that allow water to be a meaningful power generator.
Wind farms, too, are adapting to the instability of this changing climate. Once firmly pegged to the ground, turbines can now float thousands of feet above the land, spooled out like kites to capture winds where they blow hardest. Floating turbines will also fare better during hurricanes.
All of these technologies may eventually help Caribbean countries navigate their way through climate change toward a real renewable energy boom.
Credit: The Conversation