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The core problem is that wind turbines generate electricity by extracting energy out of the air, slowing down wind and otherwise altering the exchange of heat, moisture, and momentum between the surface and the atmosphere

Wind Power: Negative Effect on Global Warming in the Short Term


By —— Bio and Archives--October 13, 2018

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Wind Power: Negative Effect on Global Warming in the Short Term
Wind power has expanded 35-fold since 2000 and now provides 8% of the nation’s electricity. The US Department of Energy expects wind turbine capacity to more than quadruple again by 2050. 1

However, a Harvard study raises questions about just how much wind should be part of a climate solution. Researchers report that a high amount of wind power could mean more climate warming at least regionally and in the immediate decades ahead. The paper raises serious questions about just how much the United States or other nations should look to wind power to clean up electricity systems.

Researcher report that the transition to wind or solar power in the US would require five to twenty times more land than previously thought, and if such large scale wind farms were built, would warm average surface temperatures over the continental US by 0.24 degrees C. 2

The temperature rise is due to the fact that wind turbines redistribute heat in the atmosphere. This could significantly exceed the reduction in US warming achieved by decarbonizing the nation’s electricity sector this century, which would be around 0.1 C. 1

At least 10 previous studies have observed local warming caused by US wind farms. 3

In previous research, David Keith and co-authors modeled the generating capacity of large scale wind farms and concluded that real world wind power generation had been overestimated because they had neglected to accurately account for the interactions between turbines and the atmosphere. 4

The latest research suggests that not only will wind farms require more land to hit the proposed renewable energy targets but also at such a large scale it would become an active player in the climate system.

The core problem is that wind turbines generate electricity by extracting energy out of the air, slowing down wind and otherwise altering the exchange of heat, moisture, and momentum between the surface and the atmosphere,. The study explains this can produce some level of warming.

But the researchers claim there is a bright side in the long term. “If your perspective is the next 10 years, wind power actually has, in some respect, more climate impact than coal or gas,” co-author David Keith said. “If your perspective is the next thousand years, then wind power is enormous,” 1

Not sure how this will happen, but nevertheless, it is claimed.

References

  1. James Temple, “Wide scale US wind power could cause significant warming,” October 4, 2018
  2. Lee M. Miller and David W. Keith, “Climatic impacts of wind power,” October 4, 2018
  3. Nick Arne, “In the short term, wind power could hike global warming,” October 5, 2018
  4. Leah Burrows, “Harvard: wind power will create significant warming of 0.24 C plus eat up 5 to 20 times more land than thought,” October 4, 2018

 



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Jack Dini -- Bio and Archives | Comments

Jack Dini is author of Challenging Environmental Mythology.  He has also written for American Council on Science and Health, Environment & Climate News, and Hawaii Reporter.


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