Prospecting for wind farm sites and pre-development studies of wind energy projects require knowledge of the wind energy resource over large areas (that is, areas of the order of 10’000 km2 and greater). One approach to detail this wind resource is the use of mesoscale numerical weather prediction models. In this paper, the mesoscale Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model is used to examine the effect of horizontal grid resolution on the fidelity of the predictions of the wind resource. The simulations are made for three test cases, Switzerland (land area 39’770 km2), Iowa (land area 145,743 km2) and Oregon (land area 248’647 km2), representing a range of terrain types, from complex terrain to flat terrain, over the period from 2006–2010. On the basis of comparisons to the data from meteorological masts and tall communication towers, guidelines are given for the horizontal grid required in the use of mesoscale models of large area wind resource assessment, especially over complex terrain.

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