2011-04-02 05:51:52WInd energy research paper
Paul D


Bought a copy of New Scientist today and spotted an article about research into the impacts of large scale/increasing use of wind energy on the atmosphere and climate.

Its the first time anyone has done this.


I think there is some way to go into this type of research. But it looks like it is from a credible scientist, unless someone knows differently. I'm not totally convinced by the research.

I have to say I haven't thought about the article content in great detail. But I can see this is going to be a subject that is going to investigated for some time. I'm also aware that the Nimbys are going to pick this one up and run with it.

Anyone else have an opinion??

2011-04-02 06:36:12


That's funny, I have thought about that question a few times; but not long enough do anything with it.

The general point I was thinking about: There is a certain amount of solar energy impinging on the Earth. As there are more and more people, doing more and more things, we are employing a growing fraction of the power budget of the Earth. In the end, much of the energy we use is eventually dumped, but at higher entropy. So we are crowding out the capability for other parts of the Earth to make use of, for example, radiant energy.

Could we suck up so much wind energy that it affects the climate? It seems unlikely, because wind motion is generated by differential heating. What about tidal/wave energy?

I guess it could be an interesting problem to determine how large a problem it could be. I suspect that the most significant one would be the human utilization of radiant energy.

I have downloaded the paper, maybe I will get a chance to read it.

2011-04-03 04:44:35
Ari Jokimäki


I remember that there was some discussion about some wind energy research paper quite some time ago. IIRC, the research then suggested that wind energy does affect the climate (warming effect) and that it would be best to build wind power plants out to the sea where they would have less effect on climate.

2011-04-03 07:59:09
Paul D


There is also research that shows they benefit crops nearby by cooling them.


2011-04-05 17:01:03


Joe Romm has wrote a scathing criticism of this on Climate Progress

Yes, wind and wave power are renewable; New Scientist pulls a Charlie Sheen

from Climate Progress by Joe

In the annals of absurdly sexed up science stories crying for attention like, oh, some addled TV star, we have a new contender.  The once-excellent New Scientist, which has started running seriously flawed climate stories, as we’ve seen, now runs this stunner:

Wind and wave energies are not renewable after all

Build enough wind farms to replace fossil fuels and we could do as much damage to the climate as greenhouse global warming

Rubbish.  Indeed, what is surprising about this entire piece is just how much misinformation it contains.  You can read the original, unsexy, somewhat opaque (and probably wrong) paper submitted to Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society here.

Even if it were true that increasing global wind power capacity 300-fold (!) would do as much damage to the climate as greenhouse warming — and there’s no evidence in this study that it would — wind and wave power would still be renewable.  As NASA’s Gavin Schmidt wrote me (see below), “The NS headline is wrong.”

I’ve been bombarded with people asking me to respond to this in detail, so here goes.

2011-04-05 19:14:09Blame the sub.
Glenn Tamblyn


The body of this article ain't great. It is misrepresenting the thrust of Kleidon's paper (which I skimmed only, as a caveat) which is dealing with the application of Thermodynamic principles to Lovelockian theories of Gaia (the physical ones not the metaphysical lala land stuff) Lovelock is onto an important perspective in all of this but more rigour in its analysis is worth while. Kleidon seems to be trying to provide this. The NS article (body only) then deals with this poorly but not abysmally, falling into the trap of using too much qualitative language when a bracing dose of quantitative thinking is needed. Then the Sub' puts a heading to the piece that is BS.

Do we need to look at the impacts of renewable energy systems when they scale up to real world generation levels on the worlds energy flows? Yes. Are the impacts trivial? Are they small but NOT trivial? Are they big - probably not. But are the localised effects for regions, counties, a wind farm significant? Maybe?

Quantifying this is important.

But suggesting that Wind etc are not 'renewable' is BS. Limited perhaps; needing investigation of the limits yes. Not renewable. Bollocks.

2011-04-05 19:38:44
Paul D


It was bound to cause a stir !

2011-04-05 20:31:08
Paul D


Re: neal king.

Tidal energy is gravity driven, so the paper doesn't cover that (haven't actually read the preview doc, I'm making an assumption).

2011-04-07 02:39:31CP
Dana Nuccitelli

Romm did a good post on this story, contacting Jacobson at Stanford who was the co-author on the 100% wind water and solar paper I did a post about.

2011-04-07 06:38:10
Paul D


This turned up at the BBC:


I was intrigued by the Stuart Young Consulting link.

Did a search using google and then realised I recognised the 'visualisations' that they do.

Basically at one place I was working a few years ago, there was a Stuart Young document doing the rounds which attempted to discredit the wind energy industries methods of visualising proposed wind farms. Seems like their main business is to run down the UK wind energy business.

Added: Also it seems that the BBC failed to really highlight just how involved Stuart Young is in the anti-wind 'movement'.