Wind farm temperatures at night are increasing by 1.37F (.072C), according to a new study from researchers at the State University of New York at Albany.
The researchers analysed satellite data from a large wind farm in Texas over the period between 2003 to 2011. The results published in the journal Nature Climate Change, showed a warming trend compared to nearby areas without wind farms.
The researchers wrote, “We attribute this warming primarily to wind farms. The temperature change could be due to the effects of the energy expelled by farms and the movement and turbulence generated by turbine rotors. These changes, if spatially large enough, may have noticeable impacts on local to regional weather and climate.”
Liming Zhou, Research Associate Professor at the Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences at the University of New York detailed the change in temperature at night on the Texas wind farm, “While converting wind’s kinetic energy into electricity, wind turbines modify surface-atmosphere exchanges and transfer of energy, momentum, mass and moisture within the atmosphere.”
“Overall, the warming effect reported in our study is local and is small compared to the strong year-to-year changes that result from natural variation,” said Zhou.
Wind farms around the world had the capacity to produce 238 gigawatt of electricity last year. That is a 21 percent rise compared to 2010 and the capacity is expected to reach nearly 500 gigawatt by the end of 2016 with bigger and more farms being built, according to the Global Wind Energy Council.
Liming Zhou said, “Wind power is going to be a part of the solution to the climate change, air pollution and energy security problem. But understanding the impacts of windfarms is critical for developing management strategies to ensure the long-term sustainability of wind power.”
Zhou told the Guardian that his results could not be used as an justification for blocking new windfarms. “The warming might have positive effects. Furthermore, this study is focused only on one region and for only 9 years. Much more work is needed before we can draw any conclusion.”