February 08, 2019

Supreme irony: wind farms can cause atmospheric warming, finds a new study

Dana Mathewson

Quick! Somebody tell Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez! But she'll need to have it explained in short words.

Supreme irony indeed! Wind, as in wind-driven turbines clustered in "wind farms," has been touted as a "renewable energy source" that's going to save our planet from the dreaded Global Warming, a.k.a. Climate Change.

Now take another look at the title above! I guess there really is no such thing as a free lunch after all.
While ironic that something designed to reduce CO2 emissions (and presumably warming)is actually producing warming around it, this isn’t really any big surprise. Orchardists and vineyard operators in California have been using motor driven wind turbines to elevate local temperatures to save crops from frost for over half a century. What is different here is the scale of nighttime warming, large enough to be visible on MODIS satellite imagery thanks to large scale wind farms.

Dr. Roger Pielke Sr. and associates have been doing research along these lines for quite some time, and has this summary on some recent research.

From Louise Gray in the Telegraph:

Wind farms can cause climate change, according to new research, that shows for the first time the new technology is already pushing up temperatures.

Usually at night the air closer to the ground becomes colder when the sun goes down and the earth cools. But on huge wind farms the motion of the turbines mixes the air higher in the atmosphere that is warmer, pushing up the overall temperature.

Satellite data over a large area in Texas, that is now covered by four of the world’s largest wind farms, found that over a decade the local temperature went up by almost 1C as more turbines are built. This could have long term effects on wildlife living in the immediate areas of larger wind farms. It could also affect regional weather patterns as warmer areas affect the formation of cloud and even wind speeds.

So, in addition to using land that could otherwise be used to grow crops, chopping up countless birds and bats, and requiring a lot of maintenance, if you put these unsightly and noisy monsters in clustered farms they actually have the opposite effect of the desired one. Who'd 'a thunk it?

Posted by: Timothy Birdnow at 11:31 AM | No Comments | Add Comment
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