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Wind Farms May Contribute To Global Warming, New Research Suggests

Wind Farm

Wind farms are becoming a popular source of energy around the world, after other energy sources, such as burning fossil fuels, have been attributed to global warming.

Last year, the world’s wind farms produced 238 gigawatts of electricity at any given time, a 21 percent increase since 2010. Capacity is expected to be more than 500 gigawatts by 2017, as the demand for this clean energy source increases.

According to researchers at the State University of New York at Albany, wind farms may not be as helpful as originally thought.

While wind energy is known to be cleaner than burning fossil fuels, researchers have found that wind farms have a direct effect on the environment around them, warming the local climate by as much as 0.72 degrees Celsius per decade.

Researchers analysed satellite data of the areas surrounding wind farms in Texas, where four of the world’s largest wind farms are stationed. The data was compiled between 2003 and 2011.

The results, which were published Sunday in Nature Climate Change journal, show that this change is in comparison to the areas around the wind farms, which also experienced a change, attributed to global warming.

Liming Zhou, author of the paper, and associate professor at the State University of New York, Albany, wrote that:

“We attribute this warming primarily to wind farms…Given the present installed capacity and the projected growth in installation of wind farms across the world, I feel that wind farms, if spatially large enough, might have noticeable impacts on local to regional meteorology.”

Zhou went on to point out that the study focused on temperatures at night, which were where the main increase was seen. He stated that it is possible the overall effect is much smaller. Somnath Baidya Roy of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and a co-author of the study, stated that:

“This warming effect is most likely caused by the turbulence in turbine wakes acting like fans to pull down warmer near-surface air from higher altitudes at night.”

Chris Thorncroft of SUNY-Albany, another co-author of the paper, went on to say that:

“We’re expanding this approach to other wind farms…and building models to understand the physical processes and mechanisms driving the interactions of wind turbines and the atmosphere boundary layer near the surface.”

Check out more information about global warming and wind farms here:

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5 Responses to “Wind Farms May Contribute To Global Warming, New Research Suggests”

  1. David Stonier-Gibson

    "Wind Farms May Contribute To Global Warming, New Research Suggests" – That is an ignorant, sensationalist misinterpretation of the facts, typical of so many journalists.

    The theory is plausible. However, the effect will be purely localised and will not affect the overall global temperature. Greenhouse gasses trap in heat from the sun, so the net influx of heat into the atmosphere increases. Mixing up already warm air won't *add* heat, so it will NOT contribute to global warming.

    No doubt there will now be a whole rash of hysterical, ignorant, gleefull claims from the denialists that "Look, look wind turbines do more harm than CO2! Nah nah nee nah nah!". Not to mention stupid headlines.

  2. Remco Van Santen

    Left brainers can always come up with reasons to support or reject something in isolation of the bigger picture. A bit like the opposition to nuclear energy which despite Chernobyl, killed a tiny fraction of the people who have died from coal. Cockatoos are a problem to Victorians.

  3. American Wind Energy Association (AWEA)

    This "new study" of the effect of local air mixing at the site of a wind farm says nothing about wind energy and global climate, and casts no doubt on all the other studies that find wind power is one of the best ways to address climate change. Local air mixing has nothing to do with climate, because no heat or heat-trapping gases are being added to the atmosphere.

    To clarify the facts:

    -Wind plants do not contribute to climate change, and in fact they are one of the leading technologies preventing climate change by avoiding fossil fuel use and the emission of greenhouse gases.
    -All studies have found that any impact wind plants may have on local weather is trivially small.

    Read our full fact check on the Into the Wind Blog at

    – Kevin@AWEA

  4. Robert Fanney

    This article is misinformation. There's no scientific evidence wind energy contributes to climate change. The article was likely funded by a fossil fuel special interest group.

  5. Alex Jones-Satan

    Oh lord, I can see home schooling has done you well. The report says; it creates "localized" and "slightly" warmer air at night and cooler in the day. NOT, that it adds to global warming!

    Does this type of cherry picking facts serve you in terms of the Bible also?

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