Wednesday, November 10, 2004

National Public Radio Report on Wind Turbine Impacts on Weather & Climate

NPR filed a report yesterday on the potential climatic impact of wind turbines (audio). The report is a follow-up to recent articles on the microclimate impacts of wind turbines, but also discusses the possible global impacts that could result from building enough wind turbines to supply all of the world's electricity needs.

Update (11/11/04): The NPR report is based on an article that appeared in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Wednesday. A PDF version of the article - The Influence of Large-scale Wind Power on Global Climate - is available at the PNAS website. The summary of the article explains that:
Large-scale use of wind power can alter local and global climate by extracting kinetic energy and altering turbulent transport in the atmospheric boundary layer. We report climate-model simulations that address the possible climatic impacts of wind power at regional to global scales by using two general circulation models and several parameterizations of the interaction of wind turbines with the boundary layer. We find that very large amounts of wind power can produce nonnegligible climatic change at continental scales. Although large-scale effects are observed, wind power has a negligible effect on global-mean surface temperature, and it would deliver enormous global benefits by reducing emissions of CO2 and air pollutants. Our results may enable a comparison between the climate impacts due to wind power and the reduction in climatic impacts achieved by the substitution of wind for fossil fuels.

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