Are Local Weather Patterns Impacted By Wind Farms?

Wind turbines provide a large proportion of the world’s renewable energy, yet they also face opposition, mostly due to claims that they cause deaths to birds that fly through the wind farms and are swatted out of the air by the huge spinning blades. Another point has recently been discovered which could be used by the anti-wind lobby; that it changes local weather patterns, enough to even change local habitats.

A study by Fernando Portée-Agel, from the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland, which was published in the journal Environmental Research Letters, has looked into the effects of the down drafts created by wind turbines on the local environment.

Solano County, Calif., wind farm (image via Wikimedia Commons)

Solano County, Calif., wind farm (image via Wikimedia Commons)

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Along with his colleagues he created a scale model of a wind farm inside a wind tunnel and then measured the changes in temperature and humidity as a result of the turbines activities and their impact on the movement of natural wind in the area.

When positioned in neat rows the downdrafts created by each individual turbine begin to superimpose one on top of the other, multiplying the effects to such a degree that it changes the way heat and moisture is lost from the land.

This can cause positive changes, such as in Iowa, USA, where crops planted below the turbines are kept cool during the summer; or negative changes where the moisture is removed from the land which dries and causes the crops to wilt.

oilprice-comEditor’s Note: EarthTechling is proud to repost this article courtesy of OilPrice.com. Author credit goes to Joao Peixe.

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    • phor11

      I don’t really think it’s a point that could be used by the anti-wind lobby though.

      Pretty much every utility scale power generation system affects the local environment. From dams that affect the ecosystems downstream to steam and particulate matter released into the air.

      Trying to use this as an argument against wind would be like coming out against pretty much every form of power generation.

    • yes, it could be used by those who are against energy and our lifestyle and how we are destroying the world. Not by just those who opposed to wind because they have their pockets full of petrodollars. I don’t have any particular interest. Just a MSc student in the energy field. We should stop this madness though.