Thursday, March 18, 2010

Electricity generated by wind power may raise temperatures and costs

by Jonathan DuHamel, Economic Geologist
Wry Heat
And the wind turbines chop up birds. A new study from M.I.T. indicates that vast wind farms to generate electricity may raise local temperatures as much as 1degree Celsius (1.8 degrees F) on land, but have the opposite effect over water. That’s significant considering the IPCC was all exercised about a 0.6 degree Celsius temperature rise over the entire 20th Century.

Currently only about 2% of electricity in the U.S. is generated by wind power, but the Department of Energy estimates that as much as 20% of electricity could be generated by wind by 2030. (That estimate may be just wishful thinking.) To generate 20% of our electricity by wind power would require installation of millions of turbines across the U.S.
The M.I.T. researchers say that “using wind turbines to meet 10 percent of global energy demand in 2100 could cause temperatures to rise by one degree Celsius in the regions on land where the wind farms are installed, including a smaller increase in areas beyond those regions.” The researchers also suggest that the intermittency of wind power could require significant and costly backup options, such as natural gas-fired power plants.
Wind turbines disrupt air flow. The researchers say that the “temperature increase occurs because the wind turbines affect two processes that play critical roles in determining surface temperature and atmospheric circulation: vertical turbulent motion and horizontal heat transport. Turbulent motion refers to the process by which heat and moisture are transferred from the land or ocean surface to the lower atmosphere. Horizontal heat transport is the process by which steady large-scale winds transport excessive heat away from warm regions, generally in a horizontal direction, and redistribute it to cooler regions. This process is critical for large-scale heat redistribution, whereas the effects of turbulent motion are generally more localized.” Read more.

1 comment:

  1. I think this argument is a little weak and should be tested to see if, other than eye sores, wind turbines have any effect on the climate at all. They are indeed very expense to operate.