A study first reported by Reuters seemed to suggest large-scale wind farms in West Texas cause localized warming of the surface. The implication was the spread of such wind farms might cause rather than alleviate global warming.
However there is less than meets the eye to that idea.
What does the study say?
The study, conducted by scientists at the State University of New York at Albany, indicated wind farms in West Texas had a .72 degree Celsius warming trend. It was suggested the rise was caused by the energy and turbulence generated by the rotating blades of the wind mills. While more study was indicated, the suggestion was raised that local to regional temperatures might be raised due to the action of wind farms. USA Today reported the theory the wind mill blades pulled down warming air higher in the atmosphere closer to the ground. Satellite data were used to come to these conclusions, which were published in the journal Nature Climate Change.
Does this mean wind farms could cause global warming?
According to a question and answer section that accompanied the journal article, the scientists doubt this could happen. The effects they studied were localized and likely did not involve a net increase in atmospheric temperature. Instead, air temperature is being redistributed from higher in the atmosphere to closer to the surface. Even if there was some effect, the scientists suggested it would be nowhere near as great as co2 emissions from more conventional power plants that wind farms would replace.
Are there any effects on weather by wind farms?
The study suggests there will be some change in weather patterns due to the large scale use of wind mills to generate electricity. Wind mills "modify surface-atmosphere exchanges and transfer of energy, momentum, mass and moisture within the atmosphere." What the practical effects of this phenomenon will be is as yet unknown. Further study is thus recommended.
Is there a controversy?
Leon Kaye, writing in Inhabit.Com says while the Texas wind energy industry generates 10,000 megawatts, enough to power 3 million homes, Texas agriculture is valued at $80 billion. If the effects of wind farms begin to impact farms, already reeling from last year's drought, expect a political battle.
Texas resident Mark Whittington writes about state issues for the Yahoo! Contributor Network.
- Nature & Environment
- global warming
- wind farms