We know that: windfarms ruined the ocean view of late Sen. Ted Kennedy’s Cape Cod home; are shredding birds to smithereens like carrots in a Cuisinart; and are too intermittent and unreliable as a stand-along energy source and usually needs back up by awful fossil fuel sources. But do they also cause global warming?
A frontpage story in the London’s Telegraph earlier this week citing a study that examined temperature data from Texas suggested that they did. (Texas is the biggest wind energy producer in the U.S.):
Usually at night the air closer to the ground becomes colder when the sun goes down and the earth cools.
But on huge wind farms the motion of the turbines mixes the air higher in the atmosphere that is warmer, pushing up the overall temperature.
Satellite data over a large area in Texas, that is now covered by four of the world’s largest wind farms, found that over a decade the local temperature went up by almost 1C as more turbines are built.
This could have long term effects on wildlife living in the immediate areas of larger wind farms.
It could also affect regional weather patterns as warmer areas affect the formation of cloud and even wind speeds.
The study, published in Nature, found a “significant warming trend” of up to 0.72C (1.37F) per decade, particularly at night-time, over wind farms relative to near-by non-wind-farm regions.
The team studied satellite data showing land surface temperature in west-central Texas.
“The spatial pattern of the warming resembles the geographic distribution of wind turbines and the year-to-year land surface temperature over wind farms shows a persistent upward trend from 2003 to 2011, consistent with the increasing number of operational wind turbines with time,” said Prof Zhou.
But after the article made this the biggest enviro story of the week, the study’s authors did a Q&A, pointing out that the notion that windmills cause climate change is not quite true. They noted that the warming they observed was “local and small compared to strong background year-to-year land surface temperature changes.” In other words, it’s not global warming.
The irony that a cure for global warming is actually causing global warming might be too good to be true. But what is true is that had wind energy not been powered by crony capitalism, it would have been long ago blown away by the gales of destruction unleashed by its more viable competitors.