Large-scale wind farms, consisting of hundreds to thousands of wind turbines spread over large areas for generating electricity, are likely to play an increasingly important role in providing a climate-friendly source of energy. Good. Understood.
Unlike power plants that burn oil, coal or natural gas, wind power requires no fuel, emits no pollution and produces no carbon dioxide nor any other greenhouse gas. Also true and commendable.
Also understood. But now the question is being asked: can wind farms affect the weather? If so, would it not be appropriate for the Greens to mount a protest and lash themselves to the bottom of windmills?
Researchers are investigating the potential for large wind farms in one region to alter weather patterns in another region downwind. Specifically, the turning of the windmill propellers creates considerable turbulence, which mixes air up and down. The resulting bumpiness of the air could significantly influence winds at low levels of the atmosphere.
Kirk-Davidoff and his UMD colleague, Daniel Barrie, used a global general circulation model of the atmosphere (similar to the models used to predict climate change) to calculate the effects of blanketing the Midwest with a grid of interconnected wind farms with thousands of wind turbines. On average, the study found that wind speeds were lowered by 5.5-6.7 miles per hour immediately downwind.
We should now all await with eager anticipation of the deletrious effects on the world of solar panels reflecting all those nasty rays backwards. And house insulation which has managed to banish chillblains in so many parts of the world. Which were, until a few years ago, an important part of life.