Honored Advisor
Posts: 17,958
Registered: ‎05-13-2010

Are windmills causing our beeped up weather?

Oh I know, if you want to sound smart, it`s easy to dismiss that as "poppycock"  (especially if you have 5 windmills and get $20,000 ea in rent).   And maybe windmills don`t effect weather or climate ...I don`t know, just asking and wish I had 5 windmills to collect rent from.  


10,000yrs ago my area was under a mile thick sheet of ice, so it`s hard to really say what isn`t normal anymore.  However, that northern Iowa southern Minnesota has gotten wetter especially after the wind farms came in.  This is just in my hypothesis stage, but could it be that to turn the windmill blades, the wind is slowed down enough that heavy rain gets stalled out and dumped on certain areas?   Because rain doesn`t move out, it just hangs around dumping huge amounts.


Like I say, I don`t know and if I collected rent on windmills, I would be quick to say "poppycock!".  But others smarter than me are forming opinions.   



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.



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.