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Wind Farms Warm Local Climate Slightly, Albany Study Says

Texas wind turbines.Photo credit: Mark D. Roberts

Researchers at the University of Albany have studied the effect of wind farms on local climate over a region of Texas that’s home to over 2,350 wind turbines. Their results showed an increase in temperature of 0.72 degrees in that area compared to neighboring sites that didn’t have wind farms on them.

The study took data gathered from 2003 to 2011 and concluded that the turbines modify the heat exchange between the ground and the atmosphere, affect the transfer of energy, momentum, mass and moisture within the air.

“Our results show a significant warming trend of up to 0.72 degree per decade, particularly at night-time, over wind farms relative to nearby non-wind-farm regions,” wrote lead author Liming Zhou, a Research Associate Professor from the Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences at University at Albany. “We attribute this warming primarily to wind farms as its spatial pattern and magnitude couples very well with the geographic distribution of wind turbines.”

At night time, the temperature raise in the summer was 0.46 degrees higher.

Other interpretations of the study could attribute the increase in temperature to the heat generated by the turbine footprint. However, the footprint effect is small compared to the fluctuations in wind speed and the currents generated by the turbines in the lower part of the atmosphere.

Professor Steven Sherwood from the University of South Wales explained the nighttime heating effect as similar to the one generated by fruit growers, who fly helicopters over their crops to prevent early morning frosts.

The helicopters, as well as the wind turbines, create turbulence and redirect the warmer air from higher altitudes to the ground, where nighttime temperatures are lower.

A couple of days ago I wrote about how some find wind turbines noisy, ugly and expensive to make, and conceptualize everything so as to raise a statue to oil as the ultimate energy resource. Wait until they hear this news – that wind turbines actually make things a bit warmer at nighttime…

Update: What did I just tell you?

[via phys.org]

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  1. Why bother trying to condemn wind turbines with such obtuse arguments, when their actual performance is so abysmal? Wind turbine proponents always quote figures in terms of averages, percentages or totals; we never get an account of how they actually perform.

    Well over here in the UK, a report has used actual figures from the National Grid of the amount of electricity delivered by wind farms and periods of time over which that electricity was contributed: http://lftrsuk.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/wind-energy-wanna-be-lievers-whats.html

    It is a shameful disgrace that our politicians can be so beguiled by the false claims of the industry’s snake-oil salesmen and their gullible supporters into spending such vast sums of our hard-earned taxes on such a useless technology.


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