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Wind turbines weather negative storm and outshine nuclear
by Ryan Roff on July 15, 2009
A buzz is building in the US and UK about the potential impact wind turbines might have on climates in and around the spinning blades. Initially, a resounding support backed many initiatives to get wind turbines out into the fields generating renewable energy, but now, many fear the outcome of a dependency on them that could change weather patterns and ultimately be an unreliable source of energy. So, are they wrong to be pessimistic?
Many say no. The issue, however, is that the underlying cons are being overshadowed by the overwhelming pros of a renewable source that offers zero emissions.
Recently, an article was published by the Washington Post that highlighted a study done by the University of Maryland. The study demonstrated how massive wind farms, on average, lowered wind speed by 5.5-6.7 MPH downwind of the turbines. Additionally, air currents were substantially disrupted by these farms, causing a change in “the development and track of storms.”
Essentially, the study and news story twists a fear of the slight potential of changing weather patterns and unpredictable storm behavior that large scale wind energy farms would have on the climate. Besides the obvious flaws in a study done by a model anticipating thousands of turbines grouped into one area, the real issue is the focus on the turbines’ minute ability to change weather when the carbon and other greenhouse gases that we emit daily, even from other energy sources, are dramatically playing a role in intensified weather and climate change.
Perhaps the thought of a renewable energy source that emits zero carbon into the atmosphere should be more celebrated.
Additionally, other studies, similar to the Maryland study, have been done that detail the effect wind turbines have on agriculture. Duke reported estimates of surface temperature near wind turbines would increase by approximately 4 Degrees and dry out soil.
Again, the study emphasizes a fear of dried soil while completely overlooking the benefits of wind turbines that allow grazing up to the base of the turbine, require zero water to operate, and create power grids in rural farming areas. With the amount of water and money poured into nuclear energy, a little dried up soil could be easily irrigated at a much lower cost than nuclear energy. Not to mention it could generate thousands of dollars for farmers who lease their land for the turbines.
Wind energy is not the ultimate solution to our depleting energy crisis, but it can certainly holds its own to what’s out there now without having the negative effect people are anticipating.