Could Extreme Wind Turbine Usage Alter Weather Patterns?

germany_smwhr_wind-turbine_gathering-stormWhile there’s no Hancock to save the world from global warming, I guess we have to do that ourselves. We try and try, struggle with all the issues nature has put in our face, but yet we don’t succeed with 100% efficiency, or we don’t convert our efforts well enough to capture the forces that move around us freely.

This is the case with wind power. While I was on a trip to Italy this summer, passing through Austria I saw huge fields with huge wind turbines, spinning and producing electricity. Europe is, indeed, a pioneer in wind power, and despite some saying that actual wind turbines are not efficient and they produce more carbon dioxide than they save (by maintenance costs and labor), the old wind mills are getting us almost free energy, which it is sometimes in excess (see the case of Denmark). Nobody thought for decades that intense usage of this kind of energy capturing device could have other effects.

Daniel Barrie and Daniel Kirk Davidoff, from the University of Maryland, conducted an experiment aimed to demostrate what huge wind turbine fields could do to the environment, extra to producing electricity. They took the pattern of expanding turbine fields to an extreme, and used a computer model to calculate what might happen if all the land from Texas to central Canada, and from the Great Lakes to the Rocky Mountains were covered in one massive wind farm.

What did they get with this simulation? They got a decrease of the wind speed with 2-3 meters per second (5.5 – 6.7 mph), plus a disruption of the air currents over all the north hemisphere. And that could be a source for storms, hurricanes, and other meteorological phenomena.

Wind’s energy comes from the Sun, and that is anyway our primary force of moving. I guess the diversification of the alternative energy sources will never let wind power evolve too much so to create extra hurricanes, or alter the weather so bad that we’d have to strengthen the saying “there’s no free lunch” to a maximum that we won’t use wind power anymore. The main idea is that we should use solar power directly and not interfere with the planet’s own eco-systems again, like we did with fossil fuels. Solar power, if used directly, can’t do any harm, unless used to burn.

On the other hand… who knows?


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  • Bill Chaffee

    I read that between 1% and 2% of the sun’s energy is converted into wind. It would make more sense to use solar energy directly. Solar energy is more energy is more intense on hot summer days when demand peaks. Man does not store more than a fraction of a second of electric power at the present time (in the form of capacitors). Electrical energy is converted into chemical energy when batteries are charged, or into potential energy when water is pumped to higher elevations. If 10% of the energy is lost when water is pumped
    to a higher elevation and another 10% lost when water flows down through a turbine then 81% of the electrical energy is recovered (which is better than batteries). Nature stores electrical energy which it discharges as lighnting. I do not live near or own stock in a power plant, however I favor nuclear power. A pound of uranium contains as much energy as 3,000,000 pounds of coal. Coal contains at least 73 elements including several parts per million of uranium and traces of plutonium. Coal would not be competitive if coal fired plants were subject to the same environmental regulations as nuclear.
    All types of power generation should be subject to the same regulations.

  • Joe Matthis

    Wind is a product of solar, we all know that right? Sure we do. Now most energy can be traced back to solar from fossil fuels to just about anything you can think of. After all the atoms that make up everything were forged inside a sun at some point. Earth is not a closed energy system or all that electromagnetic energy we produce wouldn’t leave the planet and we couldn’t talk to people on the moon. Think about all the solar radiation that the Earth absorbs and think about all the energy that is reflected back into space. There is a lot of energy out there we just have to use it wisely. Wind turbines are like solar panels they just harvest solar in a different way. We are all tapping the suns energy everytime we eat something its all connected and it’s much bigger than we even pretend to know. We have have placed a thimble in the ocean and think we have changed the ocean? I don’t think so. Why for some reason unexplainable do people think that what they do is anywhere outside of the system. We are part of the natural order as much as anything else. We are not above the system we are part of the system and the system is far greater than we will ever know. We fool ourselves into thinking that we can some how control the system from within. I’m not saying that there isn’t cause and effect and yes we can screw some things up but we typically over state our importance in the bigger picture. If your going to open Pandora’s box you might as well leave it open so hope can reside with us as well.
    Otherwise put that cell phone down, that cup of hot coffee and get your teepee out of the closet and hit the back country. We can’t turn back the clock we gotta move forward. Yeah were gona make a few mistakes hell we might even destroy ourselves but that will be inside the cycle or system as well.

    • You’re right, Joe..

  • Heather

    Even if you use solar directly, your still removing energy from an existing system. You can not take energy out of a system without altering that system. That is just simple logic.

    The only way to use solar power and not alter any natural system on earth is to use solar energy that would never have entered the earths natural enviroment.

    We would need to use space based solar power to not alter earths enviroment. Solar power from orbiting satillites or solar power from a moon based power plant would be options.

    • Solar power is in enough excess so we can say that the energy we extract from it isn’t going to damage it. Don’t think locally, in closed systems, because you’re never going to get anything more than what’s in that closed system.