The Climate Impact Of Wind Farms

The-Climate-Impact-Of-Wind-FarmsQuestion: How many wind turbines are there in the UK’s largest array of onshore turbines?

Answer: 54 – Black Law wind farm generates a capacity of 124 megawatts

For the first time ever, scientists have been able to measure the climactic effect that a wind farm has on the local environment.

The findings have been published in the journey Environmental Research Letters and the data suggests that the wind turbines do produce a very slight warming at ground level, however it was localised to the wind farm’s perimeter and they do not have an adverse ecological effect.

Co-author of the findings explained “For a long time there have been some concerns about what effects wind farms could have on the local climate and the land surface, to be honest, it was mostly speculation with nothing very concrete. We set out to actually measure what was going on.”

The team installed temperature and humidity sensors across the Black Law wind farm, the 18.6 square kilometres site in order to track any fluctuations in in temperature.

The team had a fantastic opportunity when the operators turned the wind farm off for several months for some major maintenance, what they were able to do had not been possible before and it was to compare the effects with and without the turbines rotating.

Professor Mobbs stated that: “For the first time, we have been able to detect a climatic effect – there definitely is one. Although we have been able to do a very careful experiment and detect the effect, we are now able to show – in a way that could not be done before – that this effect is very small, even in the most extreme conditions, the warming was no more than about a fifth of a degree Celsius in temperature.”

The way that the turbines alter the local climate conditions are actually quite easily explained.

What happens on a clear night is that the ground surface cools due to radiation to space, resulting in a cold layer of air close to the ground – this has been well-known for a hundred years or so.

On such nights, if you were to go up a tower or to the height of a turbine (approximately 70m), then you will find a natural difference in temperature – up a few degrees warmer than the ground. This is perfectly natural.

What the rotating turbine does is it brings some of the warmer air down to ground surface, and some of the cooler air from the surface higher up, and this is how you see the warming effect on the ground-level.

Although the surface is getting warmer, it isn’t actually adding heat anywhere at all, the turbine is simply mixing it up.

If you care about the environment and conservation, then you may find these Nature quizzes are right up your street. We have more than sixty devoted to all aspects of the natural world, from British birds to rocks and minerals – we even have questions about outer space! Go on, take a look and put your natural knowledge to the test!

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