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Harvard: Wind power will create significant warming of 0.24C, plus eat up 5 to 20x more land than thought

 

The down side to wind power

Wind farms will cause more environmental impact than previously thought

As the world begins its large-scale transition toward low-carbon energy sources, it is vital that the pros and cons of each type are well understood and the environmental impacts of renewable energy, small as they may be in comparison to coal and gas, are considered.

In two papers — published today in the journals Environmental Research Letters and Joule — Harvard University researchers find that the transition to wind or solar power in the U.S. would require five to 20 times more land than previously thought, and, if such large-scale wind farms were built, would warm average surface temperatures over the continental U.S. by 0.24 degrees Celsius.

“Wind beats coal by any environmental measure, but that doesn’t mean that its impacts are negligible,” said David Keith, the Gordon McKay Professor of Applied Physics at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and senior author of the papers. “We must quickly transition away from fossil fuels to stop carbon emissions. In doing so, we must make choices between various low-carbon technologies, all of which have some social and environmental impacts.”

Keith is also professor of public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School.

One of the first steps to understanding the environmental impact of renewable technologies is to understand how much land would be required to meet future U.S. energy demands. Even starting with today’s energy demands, the land area and associated power densities required have long been debated by energy experts.

In previous research, Keith and co-authors modeled the generating capacity of large-scale wind farms and concluded that real-world wind power generation had been overestimated because they neglected to accurately account for the interactions between turbines and the atmosphere.

In 2013 research, Keith described how each wind turbine creates a “wind shadow” behind it where air has been slowed down by the turbine’s blades. Today’s commercial-scale wind farms carefully space turbines to reduce the impact of these wind shadows, but given the expectation that wind farms will continue to expand as demand for wind-derived electricity increases, interactions and associated climatic impacts cannot be avoided.

What was missing from this previous research, however, were observations to support the modeling. Then, a few months ago, the U.S. Geological Survey released the locations of 57,636 wind turbines around the U.S. Using this data set, in combination with several other U.S. government databases, Keith and postdoctoral fellow Lee Miller were able to quantify the power density of 411 wind farms and 1,150 solar photovoltaic plants operating in the U.S. during 2016.

“For wind, we found that the average power density — meaning the rate of energy generation divided by the encompassing area of the wind plant — was up to 100 times lower than estimates by some leading energy experts,” said Miller, who is the first author of both papers. “Most of these estimates failed to consider the turbine-atmosphere interaction. For an isolated wind turbine, interactions are not important at all, but once the wind farms are more than five to 10 kilometers deep, these interactions have a major impact on the power density.”

The observation-based wind power densities are also much lower than important estimates from the U.S. Department of Energy and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

For solar energy, the average power density (measured in watts per meter squared) is 10 times higher than wind power, but also much lower than estimates by leading energy experts.

This research suggests that not only will wind farms require more land to hit the proposed renewable energy targets but also, at such a large scale, would become an active player in the climate system.

The next question, as explored in the journal Joule, was how such large-scale wind farms would impact the climate system.

To estimate the impacts of wind power, Keith and Miller established a baseline for the 2012‒2014 U.S. climate using a standard weather-forecasting model. Then, they covered one-third of the continental U.S. with enough wind turbines to meet present-day U.S. electricity demand. The researchers found this scenario would warm the surface temperature of the continental U.S. by 0.24 degrees Celsius, with the largest changes occurring at night when surface temperatures increased by up to 1.5 degrees. This warming is the result of wind turbines actively mixing the atmosphere near the ground and aloft while simultaneously extracting from the atmosphere’s motion.

This research supports more than 10 other studies that observed warming near operational U.S. wind farms. Miller and Keith compared their simulations to satellite-based observational studies in North Texas and found roughly consistent temperature increases.

Miller and Keith are quick to point out the unlikeliness of the U.S. generating as much wind power as they simulate in their scenario, but localized warming occurs in even smaller projections. The follow-on question is then to understand when the growing benefits of reducing emissions are roughly equal to the near-instantaneous impacts of wind power.

The Harvard researchers found that the warming effect of wind turbines in the continental U.S. was actually larger than the effect of reduced emissions for the first century of its operation. This is because the warming effect is predominantly local to the wind farm, while greenhouse gas concentrations must be reduced globally before the benefits are realized.

Miller and Keith repeated the calculation for solar power and found that its climate impacts were about 10 times smaller than wind’s.

“The direct climate impacts of wind power are instant, while the benefits of reduced emissions accumulate slowly,” said Keith. “If your perspective is the next 10 years, wind power actually has — in some respects — more climate impact than coal or gas. If your perspective is the next thousand years, then wind power has enormously less climatic impact than coal or gas.

“The work should not be seen as a fundamental critique of wind power,” he said. “Some of wind’s climate impacts will be beneficial — several global studies show that wind power cools polar regions. Rather, the work should be seen as a first step in getting more serious about assessing these impacts for all renewables. Our hope is that our study, combined with the recent direct observations, marks a turning point where wind power’s climatic impacts begin to receive serious consideration in strategic decisions about decarbonizing the energy system.”

This research was funded by the Fund for Innovative Climate and Energy Research.

Source: https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2018/10/large-scale-wind-power-has-its-down-side/

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126 thoughts on “Harvard: Wind power will create significant warming of 0.24C, plus eat up 5 to 20x more land than thought

  1. Also the impact on Birds, Bats, Insect decapitations, rare earth mining for dysprosium, neodymium, and praseodymium, concrete, steel etc and the vast amount of resources to commission and decommission (obviously other energy production requires) needs adding into the equation of these monstrosities; a blot on the landscape … and from what evidence and for what reason – the Climate Change Cult has a lot to answer for IMO – there’s a strange belief that humans can have our cake (Earth) and eat it … our deluxe lifestyle has its downsides no matter what is done.

    • In the UK they are talking about letting the offshore turbines collapse in the seas so there would be no decommissioning costs to add in.

    • Insect decapitations ? Wow sounds bad, I was not aware of this issue. How does that work?

      However, I am going to explore the possibility of having one at home. Big problem with mosquitoes last few years. Though I’d like a means of chopping their balls off before I decapitate them.

    • Wind Power in now the second source of nuclear waste because of Neodymium. Search for Monazite mining and processing in google. Wind Turbines have a huge impact before even being put into the field. The neodymium magnets in 3Gw towers, which take about almost one ton of neodymium, cost the mobilization of 10000 tons of rock, processed with sodium hydroxide, fluoridric acid and produce 75 cubic meters of acid waste and almost a ton of thorium and uranium waste also. People usually do not account for the RAW material impact of these things.

      • It looks like they also forgot, or intentionally ignored the CO2 generated while acquiring the materials and building and installing the turbines. I haven’t found the earlier article but if I remember correctly it takes many years for the reduction of CO2 from wind generation to exceed the amount of CO2 produced during manufacture and installation. Throw in maintenance and this CO2 payback time may come close to the actual measured life expectancy of the turbines.

        • Throw in maintenance and this CO2 payback time may come close to the actual measured life expectancy of the turbines.

          Payback time prb’ly exceeds the real-world lifetimes.

      • JN – I presume you mean hydrofluoric acid. A truly nasty chemical.

        Anyone mining rare earths and not separating and selling co-products like uranium and thorium, has no concept of mineral economics. And they’d never get a permit to mine in any developed country if they did it like that.

        • Exactly Smart Rock. And you also right, it’s hydrofluoric acid.English is not my mother language. Raw material needs and the cost of processing them is a deep dark hiddensecret of those wind turbines. As Joe Crawford said, how is the amount of CO2 emitem during the production offset during use? Does it compensasse that much? And the desposar of materials. Thereare huge pools in China with nuclear and acid waste from the manufacturing of this things. But everything is fine because it’s not in our backyards.

    • CCB, yea I know environmentalists that believe you build wind turbines or solar panel arrays and that is it. Somehow wind and solar farms last forever, won’t need replacing and require no energy or natural resources to create them. Asking what we do when the wind does blow or the sun doesn’t shine and they just look at you. Some talk about battery storage but again believe battery farms require no resources and will last forever.

      Then we have Leftist using the environment and environmentalists to advance the socioeconomic agenda. They know the details and the downsides as well as anyone but saving the planet is not their goal, ending free market capitalism is.

  2. Also the impact on Birds, Bats, Insect decapitations, rare earth mining for dysprosium, neodymium, and praseodymium, concrete, steel etc and the vast amount of resources to commission and decommission (obviously other energy production requires) needs adding into the equation of these monstrosities; a blot on the landscape … and from what evidence and for what reason – the Climate Change Cult has a lot to answer for IMO – there’s a strange belief that humans can have our cake (Earth) and eat it … our deluxe lifestyle has its downsides no matter what is done.

    • Precisely, Leo! If a trace gas, created by man, at unitary parts per million, can endanger the planet, what could the change in the circulatory wind currents caused by wind turbines do to the climate instead? Just sayin’.

      • Actually, just a thought: could some uni grad spend some CPU time modelling the effects of thousands of wind turbines on climate? After all, they could calibrate it to a butterfly’s wing.t

  3. Good to see some honesty appear in the convoluted, subsidy-driven world of alternative energy! So many bogus claims and projections by the promoters of these technologies so it’s a step in the right direction when they start admitting issues of footprint, power density and suchlike.

  4. ‘The next thousand year’s how many time will the wind powered generators be replaced and is that factored in!

    • Exactly what I was going to say! How much energy is used in building and maintaining a wind turbine? Likely to be significant over the thousand years, I would expect.

      • But think of all the job s created. Permanent, good paying jobs. And don’t forget the benefits to the treasuries of the local and state governments. /s

        • yes, William, now if we could just make them more expensive, less efficient, and shorter-lived, the economy would absolutely explode to levels that exceed even the current Obama boom that Trump inherited.

          • Yes indeedy. Best idea is to start blowing the pinwheels up and replacing them lickity-split. Broken windows help the economy, dontchaknow?

      • The fallacy of renewables is revealed with simple arithmetic.

        5 mW wind turbine, avg output 1/3 nameplate, 20 yr life, electricity @ wholesale 3 cents per kwh produces $8.8E6.

        Installed cost @ $1.7E6/mW = $8.5E6.

        Add the cost of energy storage facility and energy availability loss during storage/retrieval, or initial and maintenance cost of standby CCGT for low wind periods. Add the cost of land lease, maintenance, administration.

        Solar voltaic and solar thermal are even worse with special concern for disposal and/or recycling at end-of-life (about 15 yr for PV).

        The dollar relation is a proxy for energy relation. Bottom line, the energy consumed to design, manufacture, install, maintain and administer renewables exceeds the energy they produce in their lifetime.

        Without the energy provided by other sources renewables could not exist.

    • That may not be a factor: Without having the use of fossil fuels to power economically positive production processes, there may be no money from anywhere that can be used to pay for said replacement.

      To have wind and solar, there must be productive energy sources that are effective and efficient enough to be able to provide for their naturally unrecoverable costs.

  5. The amount of energy globally behind Earth’s surface winds is immense, and we’re not even talking about winds above 200 meters. This wind turbine subtraction is a drop in the bucket. Yeah, there might be local effects, but I can do math, and the Earth’s wind field through the troposphere is ‘hugh-geeeee.’

    What I think is really happening:
    Liberals are starting to realize those monstrous 5 MW turbine farms will end up in their back yard in Sonoma or Cape Cod, so now they become all NIMBY whiners and say, “Whoa, let’s think about this.”

    The Green Energy idiots will always want someone else to shoulder the burdens of trying to eliminate fossil fuel use. Until it comes around to them.

    They can afford a 2x to 4x electric bill without breaking a sweat with their portfolio accountant, so long as it buys them “green virtue” points at their Christmas Party.
    But they also like reliable electricity, which wind and solar are not. And any reasonably intelligent person (or someone who can afford to pay intelligent engineers) can figure out that getting too crazy on wind and solar (as % of grid demand) dramatically lowers grid reliability.

    • Joel:

      “This wind turbine subtraction is a drop in the bucket. Yeah, there might be local effects, but I can do math, and the Earth’s wind field through the troposphere is ‘hugh-geeeee.’”

      If you substitute CO2 for ‘turbine subtraction’ you have a measure of what climate realism is.

    • Agreed. The temp rise just smells wrong. The wind isn’t completely stagnating here (or even close to it), and I fail to see how increasing the turbulent mixing will raise the ground temp. The claim of observed heating in existing fields is in the second, pay walled paper, and I don’t care enough to get it.

  6. “For wind, we found that the average power density — meaning the rate of energy generation divided by the encompassing area of the wind plant — was up to 100 times lower than estimates by some leading energy experts,”
    That sort of misunderstanding raises strong questions over the meaning of the words “energy experts”.

    If you search previous comments on this website you will find that there was better understanding from the unpaid expertise here.

  7. We shouldn’t neglect to add the adverse environmental impact of the turbines planted off coasts, which turn previously productive fishing grounds and the seabed into lifeless desert, disrupt marine creatures’ ecologies, spawning grounds and disrupt migration patterns of sea life and seabirds. To say nothing of the constant vibration which is probably playing a large part in sea mammals beaching and losing their way. Off East Anglia’s coast these disruptions are increasing as more and more of these subsidy farming eyesores clutter offshore navigation, but the environmentalists won’t hear a word against their latest eco-damaging half baked wheeze.

    • I’d not realised there was significant damage to marine habitats caused by offshore wind farms. Can you point me in the direction of any published research?

      Thanks.

      • MIT Technology Review reported on a study of impact on North Sea marine habitats and a Swedish study reached similar conclusions, that the habitat was being altered in unknown ways in the long term. Of course they stressed the positives like mussel bed growth and a sanctuary effect from commercial fishing. But doubtless the same precautionary principles on which the whole climate scare is based will be applied to this experiment with nature- especially as the Swedish report admitted that the full size turbines all create seabed vibration when they are working.
        The good news is that a few species of duck seem to avoid the blades, other birds not so much. Good lucking getting funding to study that.

  8. When you see the size of these bird choppers up close, I find it very hard to believe that they can ever pay back the carbon dioxide emitted from their production*.

    The IPCC in 2011 claimed between 0.02 and 0.04 pounds of carbon dioxide equivalent per kilowatt-hour. However a 2014 research review and meta-analysis* estimated between 0.4 grams at the low end and 0.8 pounds at the high end with an average of 0.07 pounds. That’s some ballpark, the high end puts them smack in the range of natural gas generated electricity!

    I’d bet that the high end is closer to the truth when made in China and the real world lifecycle – about half the current estimate – is taken into account. I don’t think it is just a coincidence that the high end figure happens to be just half that of the low end estimate for coal-generated electricity at around 1.6 pounds!

    *241.85 tons of CO2 for the concrete and steel alone!
    *Assessing the lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions from solar PV and wind energy: A critical meta-survey (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.enpol.2013.10.048)
    **IPCC, 2011: IPCC Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation.

  9. Another very striking instance of the phenomenon that the Green policy prescriptions not only mostly have no effect on the supposed problem, but often actually make it worse.

    Another striking example is the advocacy of burning wood, which in itself adds CO2 to the atmosphere. But it is alleged to be emission neutral on the grounds that when… AND IF…. the harvested trees grow again to the heights at which they were harvested, they will have recaptured the CO2. Yes, if they do. In 50 years or so. Chances are however that they will not. And you cannot know now, when you burn them, that they will.

    Another example was the rush to diesel cars in Europe. Never mind the side effects of particulate and NO2 pollution, consider that if you increase MPG, you reduce costs, and the result of this is to increase miles driven, thus wiping out, probably more than wiping out, any savings in emissions.

    Other examples of the law of unintended consequences in a more indirect form abound. For instance biofuels in the form of palm oil, leading to deforestation…. Or corn derived ethanol raising the price of a food crop and contributing to famine. Or subsidies for wind and solar in the UK from taxes on electricity raising the price of electricity and so causing fuel poverty and winter deaths from cold.

    And yet you can read all the time in places like Real Climate or the Ars climate postings, comments by people who are certain, without having any experience or expertise in running or designing electricity systems, that the answer is just wind plus batteries. Or solar plus batteries. Or both plus batteries. Who are convinced that 100% renewables is not only possible but a great idea and fully compatible with a modern industrialized society and economy.

    What we are seeing culturally is a flight from engineering and a flight from data. We have spent two generations now teaching millions of college graduates the great insights of Post Modernism, that there is no such thing as objective reality and that truth is in the mind of the wisher. And the result is that we have raised a huge population that simply does not know how to think logically and coherently about public policy issues.

    Take away the concept of evidence and all you are left with is wishful thinking, and this is what characterizes the Green policy recommendations. A total lack of rigorous evidence based thinking.

    • In general, I agree with your analysis, but citing the impact of the switch from petrol to diesel makes little sense to me. Diesel cars are 20% – 30% more economical than petrol cars, but I’d be very surprised if driven mileage were to increase by a matching amount. To follow your argument further, it would be illogical for general improvements in efficiency such as mpg to be made (on the basis they reduce emissions) for they would, on your analysis, be outweighed by increased usage.
      What lower mpg costs do affect is the affordability threshold of cars, enabling those on marginal incomes to have the freedom of personal transport (and I do think that is a good thing – it is one of the major freedoms released by prosperity.)

      • End the wind subsidies and where would wind be? OnshoreWind cant compete with solar on a life cycle cost basis. Germany held their 1st joint auction and solar won every project.

        https://www.pv-magazine.com/2018/04/12/wind-has-no-chance-against-pv-in-germanys-mixed-wind-solar-auction/

        The wind guys claimed it wasnt fair for wind to have to compete against solar and the solar guys agreed!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!. The German government then agreed to contravene my 2nd law of economics by saying that in the future; wind will have a guarantee of a certain % by combining it with solar in joint bids thereby protecting wind as if it was a baby that needed protection.

        THE 5 FUNDAMENTAL LAWS OF ECONOMICS
        *************************************************************************************************
        My 1st law of economics is that there is no free lunch. My 2nd law says “On any tender or auction, if the quality is the same and all external costs are accounted for, then whoever has lowest lifecycle cost, wins the tender or auction.” For those interested, my 3rd law of economics states “Any attempt to interfere with either the supply or demand curve raises the costs or creates shortages. Monopoly markets are an exception.” My 4th law states that any attempt by governments to lower energy usage by promoting energy efficiency is doomed to failure. the reason is simple. If an individual saves money by increased efficiency on energy ; that individual will either put the saved money in the bank or spend it. If he/she spends it it will involve using energy of some sort. If he/she puts it into the bank, then the bank will lend that money to someone else that will use the money to either buy products that use energy or some service that uses energy. Either way energy is not saved in the end. My 5th law of economics states that when evaluating whether a new technology ( of equal quality to the older one) should replace an older technology; only if life cycle costs of the newer technology per year are lower than the older one, should the old one be replaced assuming that all external costs are taken into account. Of course national security and future supply of old technology have to be taken into account. Politicians that promote increasing number of jobs for the new technology are promoting increased costs and thus are contravening the 5th law.

        These laws should never be broken and in fact the 1st one by definition cannot be contravened.

        • My 4th law states that any attempt by governments to lower energy usage by promoting energy efficiency is doomed to failure. the reason is simple. If an individual saves money by increased efficiency on energy ; that individual will either put the saved money in the bank or spend it.

          Indeed. When asked by friends whether reloading ammunition saves money, honest reloaders will reply “no; I just shoot more”.

      • richardw

        Its a common enough event. Jevons Paradox, eg here:

        https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2010/12/20/the-efficiency-dilemma

        The assumption that raising mileage will lead to lower fuel consumption is the concealed assumption that increased mpg and lower costs of driving have no effect on how much people drive or the uses they make of their cars.

        Its almost certainly false. If the effect of increased numbers of diesels were to make cars more affordable for the poor, or indeed for anyone who notices what driving costs, the result would be to raise fuel consumption.

        Cf seatbelts. There is a lot of evidence that people drive to a given level of danger, so seatbelts may raise speeding and accidents. They are still beneficial because the resulting accidents are less injurious with them. But its not straightforward. The number of accidents does not stay the same, because the presence of the seatbelt changes perceptions and behaviors.

        We replaced all our incandescents with LEDs. We leave the lights on more now. We have still reduced our electricity bill, but not as much as if we had retained the same lighting behavior.

      • When driving becomes cheaper, people are less likely to think ahead so that they can plan trips efficiently.
        When driving becomes cheaper, fewer people are willing to put up with the hassle of mass transit, or attempting to ride share.

    • michel

      Thinking back to the 60’s and early 70’s, greens were the youthful, ideological, scruffy intellectuals who couldn’t or wouldn’t get a job because they wouldn’t work for ‘the man’, or so they claimed.

      They invented industrialised protesting and were happy to live in squats living off the state and others whilst they devoted their intellectual ideology to remaining scruffy and liberated from mere society.

      Then they discovered profits were readily available through green campaigning. Around this time Patrick Moore, ex of Greenpeace, left because he saw his noble quest to save seals turning into a financial and political monster.

      Greenpeace and it’s ilk are now well funded organisations with highly paid members stalking the corridors of power.

      In the UK, the bonfire of the QUANGO’s (quasi-autonomous non-governmental organisation) when Cameron’s Conservative party was elected furthered the cause of these, by now, registered charities by providing selected ones as the recipients of public funds to continue the lobbying hitherto undertaken by QUANGO’s. But now they are in the pay of the government and must do their bidding or have funds withdrawn.

      The former scruffy hippies have now turned into ‘the man’ they so assiduously combated in their youth. Hypocrisy just doesn’t begin to describe their activities.

      • Thinking back to the 60’s and early 70’s, greens were the youthful, ideological, scruffy intellectuals who couldn’t or wouldn’t get a job because they wouldn’t work for ‘the man’, or so they claimed.

        How well I remember those days! Then, I was trying to get into the very first year of the OU and got hold of as many of their publications as I could (sadly, an unfortunate posting by the RAF put a stop to that!). But, I remember the ‘Limits To Growth’ that was supposed to show how the world was going to end. And now, I wonder whatever happened to those predictions, what, nearly 50 years ago? What, I am compelled to think, is the validity of current predictions for 50 years hence (not that I shall be around to find out)?

    • Thanks Michel – what you describe is ‘paranoia’
      viz: Hasty and ill-considered responses to non-existent, poorly defined or utterly fabricated threats.
      It’s occurring all through modern society.
      Think ozone, plastic, diesel, Ebola, vaccination, mad cows, super-storms and nose-picking.
      All subject to rules, regulations and taxes hastily imposed by chronic worriers and obsessives.

      BUT but but: wtf is *this*…..

      …the largest changes occurring at night when surface temperatures increased by up to 1.5 degrees. This warming is the result of wind turbines actively mixing the atmosphere near the ground and aloft while simultaneously extracting from the atmosphere’s motion.

      This is thermodynamical garbage.
      OK. At night the ground (the dirt – NOT where thermometers are placed) is warmer than the air.
      (So much for the GHGE eh?)
      But how does the windmill do this mixing – the wind will not be blowing.
      And if the wind *was* blowing, IT would do the mixing.
      Even before you take on the insanity that extracting energy from a/any system increases its temperature.

      Drunk-at-the-Time or Sugar-Addicts?
      You choose.
      Either way, somebody misplaced a hyphen for a negative sign their always wonderful computer model

    • “And the result is that we have raised a huge population that simply does not know how to think logically and coherently about public policy issues.”

      Your description of the education system pretty well describes the perfect way to end independent nations and force a caretaker government into existence – especially one that is drooling over the opportunity to final gain its perceived reason for existence – aka the UN.

    • Good point about the diesels in Europe. I would like to add, as a citizen of the Netherlands, that the authorities are partly to blame by heavily taxing gas and diesel. So for many it is simply a matter of economics to drive diesel powered cars. In the Netherlands taxes on gas are more than 50% of the end price.

  10. Was wondering when some ‘reputable institution’ was going to discover this and add it to the conversation. Their 5 to 20x more land seems a tad light. Was thinking more along the lines of covering the open land in Texas and leasing portions of northern Mexico to keep the 30 + miles of continuous industry along the Houston ship channel operating 24/7, plus the state’s other industrial centers. The best big scale, real time show and tell for how these monstrosities operate, and the amount of land they take up, is to travel west on IH-20 from DFW, then turn north on Hwy 84 and drive towards Lubbock. What strikes you is the miles and miles of absolute now-worthless flat land these things sit on. It’s barren, brown, dusty. Pretty much useless beyond the good profit for the landowner going forward, which is good thing. In far West Texas they sit on mountain plateau’s and provide income for ranchers and other landowners. The rub will be when society moves and these turbines are no longer needed. Currently their life-span is what? About two decades? Turbines needing repairs or are inoperable can be seen among these turbine fields. Good luck getting the people who put them up to take them down and cart them off to the scrap heap. And selling a piece of land with these things on it? Going to be really difficult, if you can find a buyer.

    • What strikes you is the miles and miles of absolute now-worthless flat land these things sit on. It’s barren, brown, dusty. Pretty much useless …

      There are rules that limit how close human occupation can be to a wind turbine. On the other hand, isn’t it possible to farm the land right up to the base of the wind turbines? link

      The other thing I wonder about is the effect of wind farms on climate. The wind turbines extract energy from the wind and, in that regard, they are a form of friction. link Given how tall the wind turbines are, one can wonder how much they change local conditions. Do they cause local conditions to be like what would be found in hilly terrain rather than like flat land? How high into the atmosphere can the effect be measured. The link says gusty winds are caused by friction. Does that mean that wind farms will lead to an increase in wind damage to neighboring structures?

      • CommieB

        I am surprised there was no mention of the mechanical heating of the air by the blades. Air that is slowed is heated by friction, even if that energy is not converted into mechanical motion. Obviously the conversion to rotation is not 100% efficient, but it is also not 100% efficient at leaving unextracted energy in the form of moving air mass.

        Thus there is a heating effect on the air as well as the stirring action (which was mentioned). There is a parallel with coal fired generation.

        Suppose you have 100% combustion of the coal, and using a combined cycle you get 70% of that energy in the form of electricity. The other 30% can be directed to building heating as it is in Ulaanbaatar or Moscow, or wasted. Wind turbines also have a similar waste heat production during the conversion of forward airspeed to rotating shafts – at the blades, I am not thinking of the drive train losses.

        How much? I don’t know, let’s find out and consult.

  11. Of course wind turbines increase temperature. Any engineering student knows that.
    Below is taken from my scrawled engineering notes of many years ago:

    “ In the entry duct of a jet the KE of the air at entry is used to initiate compression. From the flow state equation : (KE1- KE2) = specific heat (Cp) (T2- T1) we can calculate the resulting temperature. T2.”

    Wind turbines essentially extract this kinetic Energy (KE) from the moving air and converts to useful energy. T2 is therefore greater than T1.
    Why scientists have to go to all these lengths, beats me; as all they have to do is back calculate from useful energy generated to required temperature change to enable it. OK all complicated by mass flows, inefficiencies, entropy etc. ; but easily done.

    And , of course, what has not been mentioned here is what happens to the useful energy produced? Well it goes to heating our homes does it not? With another rise in in temperature; so all in all, these turbines heat the planet just as ALL energy use does.

    • “Wind turbines essentially extract this kinetic Energy (KE) from the moving air and converts to useful energy. T2 is therefore greater than T1.”

      Wind turbines are windmills. They extract enegy via pressure differentials. P1 v P2, not T1 v T2.
      A low pressure area is formed behind and to one side of each blade.
      The extra 0.24C (sic) would be because a tall turbine would be above a low level inversion at night and it’s rotation would stir up the wind flow above and mix down the warmer air above, effectively breaking the inversion. (Says that in the article).

      BTW: 0.24C?

      A bizzarre calculation as it would depend on the exact population of turbines per area of land.
      The wind flow disturbed and mixed below and the strength of the low level inversion. The type of land incolved. The height of the inversion and the blades. Then would need at minimum a NWP model and they cant do those sums adequately in Met operated Models. Computational expense of a mesoscale process over a Continental landmass for one never mind the computational physics involved.

    • Air flow in wind turbine is described by Bernoulli equation:
      1/2 p v^2 + p g z + P = k
      Where: p is air density, v is wind velocity, g is gravitational acceleration, z is elevation, P is pressure, k is constant
      First term is dynamic pressure. When wind hits the blade, dynamic pressure decreases and P increases. When the blade rotates, P decreases. Pressure difference is converted to work done (W) in rotating blade:
      W = (P1 – P2) V
      where V is volume of air

  12. Established fact is that propellers, fans and turbines can transmit serious energy to air masses and create local weather systems aka ‘washes’ and ‘wakes’. That’s how we get airborne and fly.

    Consecutively, they are able to withdraw energy from wind masses and locally modify the energy pattern of airflows.

    So windfarms should somehow significantly impact wind distribution patterns. That’s just too much to ignore of airfoils bleeding energy from the weather system.

    How will such energy redistributions affect the putatively very delicate climate thermodynamics ?

  13. Windmills are a blight on the landscape. Windmills kill many animals. Windmills will not solve Earth’s energy problems.

    It’s time for the Greens to wake up and realize that Windmills are a deadend, and start promoting the only viable solution to supply the energy we need while producing no CO2, and that would be Nuclear power.

    Only a fool would continue pursuing Windmills as a solution to our energy problems. We know enough now to see that Windmills are not a good option.

    We need a common sense energy policy. Windmills make no sense. They can’t do what we require.

    • It’s time for Greenies to wake up and realize that CO2 is only beneficial, and that worrying about it is dumb. Nuclear is OK as long as it is cost-effective. Coal is great, and we could use more coal-fired power, after eight years of hobbling by Zero and a power-mad EPA.

  14. 0.24C temperature across the entire US? Really?

    I think the “expert” from Harvard is actually a writer for The Onion

  15. The capacity factor of windmills is typically well under 40 percent. (See here: https://www.eia.gov/electricity/monthly/epm_table_grapher.php?t=epmt_6_07_b) To get RELIABLE power, you can’t just divide the nameplate rating of the generator by the capacity factor, because the intermittent generation doesn’t take turns in an orderly way. It’s random.

    This means you need four to six times as many towers as the nameplate rating of power level you’re seeking to get an equivalent, reliable flow of power.

    The two-unit nuclear plant near my home puts out 930 MW per unit with a 92 percent capacity factor. To replace that with 2.5 MW windmills would require something like 3500 to 4000 of them. At the published rate of 10 MW per square mile, 350 to 400 square miles of these things would be needed just to replace one medium sized nuke plant.

    That’s a lot of people’s property being condemned to put up windmills. That’s a lot more property being condemned to install transmission lines. That’s a lot of expense for vast fields of green gadgets that will sit there idle 65 percent of the time. We’re talking entire COUNTIES with nothing there but windmills.

    And when the production tax credit is eventually laid to rest, windmill operators are going to walk away and abandon them by the ten thousands, leaving local communities with the job of removing these monstrosities.

    The whole windmill thing just isn’t working out.

  16. This “wind shadow” effect is something I have been intrigued by since large scale wind farms started popping up. Simple physics tells us that taking energy from nature is abnormally altering the normal weather pattern. How ironic that the nutjobs who fight against so-called man-made climate change from fossil fuels may end up causing man-made climate change in reality! The arrogance of the warmistas is staggering.

  17. I always suspected that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Even though there is a lot of potential energy in the atmosphere, extracting a significant amount in the lower atmosphere over a wide area must have some demonstrable effects on everything else at every other level of the atmosphere. No wonder the Jet Stream is getting all wonky with Rosby Waves…it may be even worse than we thought. Maybe the windmills are responsible for the wacky weather the greens keep pulling out as examples of CAGW. How ironic in any case that it is the Harvard School of Engineering making these findings.

    All it may take is 3 or 4 reputable studies like this one, and Gov’ts and industry will abandon Big Wind sooner than later. But the big one will be when the subsidies end on this industry and it has to compete on a level playing field, and then the industry collapses completely. And that day always comes. It is always a mistake to subsidize pet industries, because it distorts market realities. And everybody will be caught holding the bag, including your mutual and retirement funds that have their allocated investments in such.

    • Some years ago, I recall even the New Scientist having an article that addressed that issue. Considering the atmosphere and its winds as a classical Carnot-cycle heat engine, I think they concluded that we probably couldn’t extract enough useful energy from it for our needs, and that even if we could, it would have enormous and unpredictable effects on the climate.

      The cure being worse than the disease is not something that gets much attention in the green brain.

      • Seems like a case for the Precautionary Principle to be applied here with Big Wind. If the ‘carbon’ haters use it to try and limit the responsible use of fossil fuels without any final evidence that they are net detrimental to humanity, then the same should be applied to a new major type of industry such as wind where an actual environmental review has not been properly conducted. And we know it takes a lot of resources and land to implement this, not to mention the biological destruction of birds and bats that would be totally off limits if it were some other industry. So wind is not really that green (or efficient) after all, but I suspect a lot of people here already know that. But I doubt mainstream media will pick this story up since wind is the poster boy solution to a problem that doesn’t exist.

  18. *** ” it is vital that the pros and cons of each type are well understood and the environmental impacts of renewable energy, small as they may be in comparison to coal and gas, are considered.” ***
    That environmental impact statement is extremely important and very necessary. To go forward on this endeavor without a EIS is brainless waste. Worked for four years in the nuclear power licensing department. It takes over ten years to perform the EIS for NPP. Presently more time is spent on the environmental impact of a new gas station than a new wind farm. Believe me your children will suffer till a truck EIS is performed for ALL renewable energy projects.

  19. Did they consider the consequences of this initial warming?

    According to the alarmists, the rising temps will increase H2O in the atmosphere, and that’s the real greenhouse gas bogeyman. That’s why the global temp rise is supposed to spiral out of control.

    So, did they forecast for that?

  20. Strange that the engineering geniuses that built these things at untold billions for little results didn’t check out Newton’s 3rd law. Follow the money.

  21. From the paper—– http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/aae102

    “US electricity consumption is just 1/6 total primary energy consumption (BP 2018), so meeting total consumption would therefore require 72% and 6% [OF THE LAND] respectively for US wind and solar.”

    Suspect that they will find solar needs underestimated also—- .
    “Solar’s mean power density in 2016 was 5.4 We m−2. Our approach for estimating the area of solar farms is not fully bottom-up so this estimate is subject to systematic error.”

    Somewhere back in the ancient archives of libraries turned into computer and coffee shops they might find out that we more or less knew this. And they do cite three pre-millennial papers.

  22. “As the world begins its large-scale transition toward low-carbon energy sources…”

    I’ll believe that when I see the number of new nuclear stations start ramping up considerably, and being deployed in countries that currently have none.

    Wind and solar build is a transition to nowhere. Fossil fuels gonna rule the roost for a long time yet.

  23. Perhaps before 1,000 years the AGW crowd will discover without CO2 we die, more is better, but since it’s not really about AGW just money and control, maybe not…

  24. “Large-scale transition” to low carbon energy sources?

    That phrase would imply that these new sources are taking over a large share, perhaps a majority, of energy consumption. In fact, they are barely or not even keeping up with additional energy demand.

  25. Even if it turns out that that Hurricane Harvey was somehow affected by slower air masses because of all the windmills in Texas, would Michael Mann apply his Attribution Rule to renewables like wind? I doubt it. I doubt most mainstream media wouldn’t report on any type of negative connotation to wind energy.

    I still can’t believe he got away with testifying before congress a few years ago that cattle were being “burnt alive” in Texas because of climate change due to climate attribution they could now specifically identify. Pure steaming bull crap, and nobody said anything.

  26. Geez, the stupid it burns. They are just now waking up to the fact that wind and solar aren’t as advertised. But, they still don’t have a clue about the real reasons why wind and solar is dumb grid-based power, which is that they are expensive, and require back-up power if you want to keep the lights on.

  27. The .24 degree C of US warming due to nighttime atmospheric mixing would cause increased radiational cooling, and overall atmospheric effect would be cooling. Surface warming will be confined to where the wind turbines cause atmospheric mixing.

  28. Grid-level solar and wind farms are the pyramids of the 21st century; worthkess monuments celebrsting the hubris and tyranny of despotic political hacks.

    The only difference is that solar and wind monstrosities will not last 3,000 years, and will soon be scrap metal and landfill rubbish..

  29. Reading this again i noted this – The researchers found this scenario would warm the surface temperature of the continental U.S. by 0.24 degrees Celsius, with the largest changes occurring at night when surface temperatures increased by up to 1.5 degrees. That tells me that their is 0.24 degrees C for just the USA. Now factor in with that over the entire industrialized area. Seems to me like Wind turbines actually are a Non Solution for AGW.

  30. When nuclear power was first being developed back in the heady 1950s, the expectation was that electricity was going to be so cheap no-one would ever bother turning their lights off. That didn’t last very long, did it. Yes, the energy is (almost) free, but it costs a lot to get it out.

    The wind power schemes used the same theory – the energy is free. But the cost of capturing it is very large. And (just like nuclear power) the decommissioning costs were never included in the analysis. And the environmental costs are abominable (that’s “environmental” as the term was used in the 1970’s, i.e. destroying wilderness and killing wildlife for profit). And of course the intermittency problem.

    • The real problem with Nuclear Power is that the Anti-Nuke Fear mongers learned how to pervert the system. In the 60’s and early 70’s there were about 5 or 6 Nuclear operators on shift, and four crews. One security guard at the gate, and about two dozen maintenance personnel. Somewhere in the neighborhood of one hundred total. Today there are six operators in the control room along with a Technical engineering advisor amd about a dozen operators scattered around the plant. Operations staff has more than quadrupled. Then there are Health Physics personnel and a security staff of over 300. There are now 6 crews on shift rotating through time on the plant and Training. And that’s not all, There is a Training staff of over a hundred and and “Onsite” Engineering staff of over a hundred. Due to the NRC regulation on ALARA – As Low As Reasonably Allowable” to lower the workers radiation dosage, most maintenance actions require a “mock up” trial repair supervised by the training department. This must be as identical to the real conditions and material as possible. Once built, the Training begins. They make the repair with video cameras and critique methods to shorten the activity and reduce dosage. I personally witnessed one of these exercises that cost over $250,000 counting paid manhours of all involved and equipment, All to save a few total man REM dosage.
      Then there is the intervenor requested requirements to determine the number of deaths of birds hitting the cooling towers. [A and many other just as stupid exercises in stupidity.] A local college professor got over $100,000 a year to gather and count the number of dead birds around each cooling tower. How many wind farms have this requirement? How Many Solar farms have that requirement? What would the cost be if they did? Why don’t the cooling towers at fossil plants need the number of dead birds counted?

  31. Umm…let me state the obvious…
    “If your perspective is the next thousand years,”….
    Coal WON’T be used in a thousand years, but those wind turbines still could be, as opined by the study.
    So, NO coal impact in a thousand years, yet ongoing impact by wind turbines….
    Hmmm…?
    Wheres the benefit of having wind power again? Especially questionable if it is ADDING year on year, to the supposed problem.
    Mind you, if that cold period does rear its ugly head, then a bit more warming from what-ever source, might be beneficial.

    • David Hood

      “If your perspective is the next thousand years,”….
      Coal WON’T be used in a thousand years, but those wind turbines still could be, as opined by the study.

      Hmmmn. A wind turbine requires maintenance every 18 months, a major overhaul every 54 months (every third repair shutdown), and expects a lifetime of 15 years. The the whole thing needs replacement. So, in 1000 years (12,000 months) the current wind turbine will need to be replaced 67 times. Nuts, bolts, tower, copper, plastic, insulation, steel, controls, … All for a 17% capacity factor? Which means you need six wind turbines spread around the country to get the average actual rated power from ONE wind turbine!

      Now, current power plants are going on 45 years towards a lifetime of 60 years. Probably can’t go further than that for the turbines, generators, and controls. (Building will be good for 150 years.) They need less maintenance – but each outage is more expensive. But each conventional (or nuke) power plant expects to go for 87% to 93% capacity factor. 1000 years/60 = 16 replacements for that capacity factor of 87 – 90 %.

      • To be fair – and I certainly don’t have to be, even wind power may be redundant in 1000 years, but those ‘oh so clean’ wind turbines really – ain’t so much.
        Getting rid of coal for pollutions sake – I’m all for.
        Getting rid of coal to reduce CO2 – I’m against…IF you accept that CO2 in not a pollutant and NOT the cause of a contribution to the destruction of human kind.
        So, if coal isn’t adding to the increase in temp that may or may not be occurring, why oh why add something that WILL add to the problem – were there to be one (a problem) of course.

        No, wind turbines are as guilty – according to the paper above – to climate warming, not a panacea to it.

        And yep – nuke is the one avenue for the serious thinkers to promote.
        Considering I live in good ol New Zealand with a socialist leaning govt at the moment, I can’t see that EVER being in the mix for consideration. The so called opposition party, is just as bad, so no change towards a 4th Generation Nuke Power system will be seen in NZ.
        Sigh!!!!

    • We’d be a sorry-arse species if we were still using such a pathetic power source as wind-power in 100 yrs, let alone 1000. Only way that would happen is we were reduced to near barbarism/totalitarianism.

  32. Well, things with wind turbines may not be as bad as they seem. When the windmills eliminate birds from the earth there won’t be all that flapping going on mixing the atmosphere, so you can reduce the environmental effects of the windmills by that amount.
    Also, you won’t have to worry about sand eel populations because there will be no puffins to eat them.
    (I guess penguins and ostriches would survive, though.)

  33. What about the “shadow” that turbines using ocean currents as the source of energy cause. Over time I would expect there to be the equivalent of a “desert” downstream because of the stagnancy of the water, the restricting of nutrients etc.

  34. This paper is basically saying that mixing the air causes warming. My physics book says the only way to heat something is to add energy to is. The wind turbine by itself doesn’t add anything to the wind. It simply converts some of the wind energy to electricity. Most of the electricity is eventually lost as heat and will have no effect on temperature. But some is coverted to radio waves and light which is lost to space. So overall a small amount of every is permanently lost and the earth will cool as a result. This paper cannot be correct if it violates the laws of physics.

    UHA data shows the earth has cooled by about 0.4C since the last Elnino. We will never be able to see the effect of wind turbines on temperature due to the normal up and down temperature fluctuations.

  35. We are going to solve our energy problems (and the associated environmental issues) by using less power. This can be done two ways, innovation in low power / energy smart devices (i.e. LED lighting) and this is the biggie – using / wasting less energy. I see houses lit up at night on the outside so that it is completely visable at night. Yes it is cool, however it is a flagrant waste of energy it says to me “look at my house isn’t it beautiful and obviously I don’t give a f#@k that 95% of the energy it takes to show it off is never seen by anyone” It’s this type of attitude that needs change.

  36. We are going to solve our energy problems (and the associated environmental issues) by using less power. This can be done two ways, innovation in low power / energy smart devices (i.e. LED lighting) and this is the biggie – using / wasting less energy. I see houses lit up at night on the outside so that it is completely visable at night. Yes it is cool, however it is a flagrant waste of energy it says to me “look at my house isn’t it beautiful and obviously I don’t give a f#@k that 95% of the energy it takes to show it off is never seen by anyone” It’s this type of attitude that needs change.

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