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Wind farms lift the temperature in their region

Wind turbines can modify the local climate by warming the atmosphere, according to a study that revealed an increase in temperature…

Wind turbines generate turbulence in the ground, which stirs up the atmosphere and raises the temperature. EPA/Horacio Villalobos

Wind turbines can modify the local climate by warming the atmosphere, according to a study that revealed an increase in temperature of 0.72 degrees over a region of Texas where four large wind farms have been built.

While converting the kinetic energy of wind into electricity, wind turbines modify exchanges between the ground and atmosphere, and affect the transfer of energy, momentum, mass and moisture within the air, the authors of the study said.

They analysed satellite data from 2003 to 2011 over a region in west-central Texas where four of the world’s largest wind farms are home to more than 2,350 turbines.

Most were built between 2005 and 2008, allowing the researchers to assess the difference between a scenario with the smallest impact on the local climate and a scenario with the greatest.

Their findings are published today in the journal Nature Climate Change.

“Our results show a significant warming trend of up to 0.72 degree per decade, particularly at night-time, over wind farms relative to nearby non-wind-farm regions,” wrote lead author Liming Zhou, a Research Associate Professor from the Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences at University at Albany. “We attribute this warming primarily to wind farms as its spatial pattern and magnitude couples very well with the geographic distribution of wind turbines.”

The temperature at night-time in summer increased by 0.46 degree over the same period.

Although the increase in temperatures could be attributed in some part to heat generated by the turbine footprint - the turbine blades, towers, access roads and so on - the footprint took up only a small percentage of the land area of wind farms, the researchers said.

Instead, it was likely that variations in wind speed, as well as fluctuations stirred up by turbines in the low part of the atmosphere, were largely responsible for the change. “The stronger wind speeds in [winter] than [summer] and at night-time than daytime … probably drive wind turbines to generate more electricity and turbulence and consequently result in the strongest warming effect at night-time in [winter].”

Professor Steven Sherwood, co-director of the Climate Change Research Centre at the University of New South Wales, said the findings “show that night-time temperatures went up by about 0.5 degree in the summer where the wind farm is. Daytime temperatures do not appear to be affected.

“This makes sense, since at night the ground becomes much cooler than the air just a few hundred meters above the surface, and the wind farms generate gentle turbulence near the ground that causes these to mix together, thus the ground doesn’t get quite as cool. This same strategy is commonly used by fruit growers, who fly helicopters over the orchards rather than windmills, to combat early morning frosts.”

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  1. Peter Miller

    Digital Artist/Sound Designer/Composer at Scribbletronics

    Well... basic physics tells you that you take energy from somewhere and there's a cost somewhere else. It's probable that wind farms steal a little bit of the energy that would otherwise go to dissipating heat from the ground. Physically speaking: duh.

    Any kind of energy we redirect for human purposes will have this effect. It's hard to know what the purpose of this study is (if not to attempt to cast some dirt on wind power), and harder to understand why we're reading about it here.

    Will we be seeing a similar piece in the Conversation tomorrow about how much the steam from cooling towers on coal power stations are heating up their local environments?

    No? Oh, I see, everyone is concerned about that already. Right.

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    1. Chris Lee

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Peter Miller

      Why are you upset. It's all a process of being informed. If you attack this, you're no better than people who attack reports about global warming. After all, the motivation is the same. Anything that is counter to your beliefs is to be attacked. We should stand for truth, regardless of whether its inconvenient or not

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    2. Peter Miller

      Digital Artist/Sound Designer/Composer at Scribbletronics

      In reply to Chris Lee

      I'm not upset. It just seems like a banal observation to me. Wind farms, like solar farms, tidal power, hydro, coal or uranium all have an energy deficit of some kind. So here we have some scientists who've done an empirical study that demonstrates what any kid should learn in science class. Wind farms just seem to have turned into some kind of contemporary media whipping boy, for some reason.

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    3. Chris Lee

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Peter Miller

      I think the point isn't to say 'wind farms make things hot', it's to measure exactly how much; how many turbines equates to how much temperature increase. These are pretty useful things to know. I think you're only focusing on the headline

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    4. Peter Miller

      Digital Artist/Sound Designer/Composer at Scribbletronics

      In reply to Chris Lee

      Conceded. They are useful things to know.

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    5. Peter Miller

      Digital Artist/Sound Designer/Composer at Scribbletronics

      In reply to Chris Lee

      But, sigh, here come the headlines down my feeds: "Wind farms affect local weather" (BBC); "Wind Farms Warming Texas" (Discovery); "Wind farms can cause climate change, finds new study" (Telegraph UK).

      Whipping boy. That's all I'm saying. No-one cares about the 'useful things to know'.

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    6. Peter Miller

      Digital Artist/Sound Designer/Composer at Scribbletronics

      In reply to Chris Lee

      @Chris: Knight Science Journalism Tracker is running the precis of the problem with the way the media handles this kind of story, FYI. Just as I suspected:

      http://bit.ly/IlOea9

      Fox even has it as 'New Research Shows Wind Farms Cause Global Warming.' None of this stuff is helpful for a sensible discussion.

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    7. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      Gee you guys really can't help it can you? Can't resist demonstrating your superior grasp and tipping a bucket on the rest of us poor ignerrunt grunts ... and you still don't understand why your investments are on the nose out here.

      Arrogance is not how to win people over Mike.

      Try this: Pretend you are trying to sell the locals on a CSG operation - I know you wouldn't of course - but just try. Now start your spiel with "For the scientifically literate ..." Works well doesn't it?

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    8. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Sydney University researchers have compiled a list of 101 health complaints attributed to wind farms.
      http://t.co/Q9niYOs9

      From my posts
      "There is no doubt that large windfarms have an environmental impact including bird strike. They need to be subject to environmental controls

      From your posts
      "messianic missionary zeal
      "environmentalist" spruikers.
      "The fruits of arrogance
      "You lot and your CSG arrogance
      "impose your "solutions"
      "God save us from true believers.

      From you
      "I'll start taking you blokes more seriously when you start looking at putting towers in cities on top of tall buildings and on coastal headlands... put them in your backyards.

      From a Landscape Guardian to a leading member of the rural community of Hepburn Springs during the opening of our local wind farm.
      “F off back to Melbourne you sanctimonious middle-class C”.

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  2. David Arthur

    resistance gnome

    I have occasionally pondered the effects of extracting energy from air flows.

    What I have learned here is that heat transfer from ground to atmosphere may be affected by wind speed - lower wind speed near the ground may give lower rates of heat transfer.

    Thanks Justin.

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  3. Peter Ormonde
    Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Farmer

    I think there is far more to be worried about with wind turbines than marginal increases in localised air temps to be honest ... like the economics of the gear, its inherent intermittency and the need for a substantial gas fired back-up capacity.

    Land based wind generation in this country is by and large a furphy. Not unless we are talking about putting them on ridge lines where the trees are flattened by wind shear ... good natural anemometers trees.

    But we are putting them where the…

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    1. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Peter. Here is some recent commentary on wind power in South Australia where it has risen to 21% market share.

      "The high prevalence of wind power in South Australia’s electricity mix is actually depressing electricity prices in the state.

      "Critics of wind will suggest that wind requires huge amounts of expensive gas peaking power as back-up, and that’s where power prices will take a hit. But that hasn’t happened ... South Australia has been using less electricity from gas peakers (open cycle gas turbines and thermal gas) over the period that wind power rose from 7 per cent to 21 per cent market share.

      http://www.climatespectator.com.au/commentary/australian-embarrasses-itself-again

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    2. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      Yes I quite like reading Giles Parkinson and Climate Spectator - they are excellent spruikers for the industry. But not necessarily reliable. Tend to cherry-pick a bit.

      The wind industry itself admits to the problem of intermittency and the need for back-up switchable capacity. I don't know much about South Australian industry. I didn't even know they had gas turbines operating as back-up. How many have they got? Who paid for them?

      See it's a big ask for a private investor to build a…

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    3. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Peter - Giles Parkinson is not editor of Climate Spectator. He left some time ago - not that that would make any difference anyway.

      You do not appear to be all that well informed yet you dismiss the link that I gave you as "not necessarily reliable".

      You say
      "...my understanding of SA is that they regularly import power from the other states via the grid via the spot market. "

      Sorry - your understanding is wrong which you would have realised if you read the link which quotes a report from…

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    4. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      Excellent Mike.

      The questions were in fact genuine - as was my interest.

      I said I don't know much about the South Australian industry and asked a couple of specific questions. I didn't even know Giles was the editor of the Climate Spectator to be honest and I haven't read any of it for a while precisely because of this messianic missionary zeal that dominates the thinking of the industry and it's "environmentalist" spruikers.

      But once again you GE enthusiasts regard anyone who expresses…

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    5. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      messianic missionary zeal
      "environmentalist" spruikers.
      The fruits of arrogance
      impose your "solutions"

      Peter - you are not interested in a discussion on wind energy.

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    6. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      As regular readers of the Conversation will be aware Mike I'm up for a discussion on just about anything ... but there is more to discussion that trading insults and condemning views you find "unacceptable".

      Sadly the current crop of wind enthusiasts don't actually understand discussion - only argument - and regard any criticism of their toys as an attack from a flat earth knuckle scraper.

      It might surprise you to know I've been working on these issues for 30 years Mike, promoting and using renewables - even built a rather spiffy vertical axis turbine or two ... and I've been at it long enough to be aware of the limitations - indeed the counter-productive outcomes - of attempting to argue one's way to victory rather than discuss, negotiate and compromise. You lot and your CSG arrogance and missionary zeal have undone much of the patient work that has been going on for thirty years.

      Keep it up. You'll be going nuclear for sure at this rate.

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  4. Derek Bolton

    Retired s/w engineer

    There seems to be a difference in interpretation of the data between the Albany researchers and Prof Sherwood.
    Sherwood's explanation certainly makes sense, and has an interesting corollary. By drawing more heat from the air into the cold night-time ground surface, the overnight radiation from the ground increases, helping, ever so slightly, to cool the planet.
    The benefit to crops, where applicable, makes it a triple win.

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    1. Jay R

      Mining Engineer

      In reply to Derek Bolton

      I'm not sure about that. The issue with global warming isn't that the actual planet and core is warming, only the atmosphere. The earth itself actually provides heat to the atmosphere, so I think that this effect would increase the transfer rate.

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    2. Derek Bolton

      Retired s/w engineer

      In reply to Jay R

      The turbines are transferring some of the heat from the lower atmosphere back to the ground. Much of that will just go back into the lower atmosphere again, but a lot will radiate through to higher layers and thence into space.

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    3. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Derek Bolton

      Actually, not --" radiating to space". The heat is infrared, and it will be absorbed preferentially by the many frequency bands water vapor loves, and the few band CO2 loves, and then too N2O (from fertilizers), etc.

      Anything that adds heat anyywhere in teh atmosphere adds to global warming.

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    4. Derek Bolton

      Retired s/w engineer

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      I was careful not to say directly from ground to space, though some is. IR absorbed in the atmosphere will bounce around being re-emitted and absorbed, some returning to the ground but some leaking out into space. If it didn't, we'd all fry.
      Remember, this turbine effect is not adding heat to the system, it's redistributing it.

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  5. Daryl Deal

    retired

    I am curious, we know as a direct result of global warming, the average temperature over the entire planet has increased by a small and measurable amount.

    In addition, it is a given that strong La Nina conditions induce drought in the Texas Panhandle and the past two years have seen the worst drought since records began. The effective cost of the drought of 2011 has cost Texas farmers, well in excess of seven billion dollars. Some of the farmers, in Texas, where these windmills exist, would have…

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  6. Alex Cannara

    logged in via Facebook

    Interesting comments so far. There are many reasons why wind 'farms' are poor ideas, and not only because the effects of climate change are already making some problematic...
    http://spectrum.ieee.org/green-tech/wind/a-less-mighty-wind
    www.nytimes.com/2011/01/21/us/21tttransmission.html?_r=1&hpw
    Hard to dig up 1000 cubic meter foundations & move 400-ton towers.

    And, traditional designs are inefficient, capturing maybe 50% of the wind energy in an ideal period. Other designs are superior, but…

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    1. Peter Miller

      Digital Artist/Sound Designer/Composer at Scribbletronics

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Species kill is a total furphy when it comes to wind turbines. If you're talking about things killed directly by the rotors, that is. It happens every now and then, inevitably, but birds fly into windows and power lines in numbers an order of magnitude greater.

      http://www.currykerlinger.com/birds.htm

      On the efficiency of wind generation: I've long wondered why people don't use vertical helical blades for this purpose. Much more efficient, and have the considerable advantages of not having to be up high, and not needing to be pointed at the wind. Plus, you could easily arrange them in arrays on the tops of already existing buildings.

      And, speaking personally, while I think there are good possibilities in nuclear, Fukushima well and truly buried that idea for 90% of the population.

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    2. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Peter Miller

      Actually, Peter, in the US, especially Calif., our endangered raptor counts ar4e indeed under threat from windmills. I don't know what a "furphy" means, but even in our corn & wheat belts, wind 'farms' are now know to cause enough damage to birds & bats that the real farm losses, due to uneaten insects, are estimated to exceed the value of all wind power generated in the region, if built out as forecast. David MacKay has had a free book out on the subject of the 'ungreen'-but-subsidized furphies…

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    3. Peter Miller

      Digital Artist/Sound Designer/Composer at Scribbletronics

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      "Actually, Peter, in the US, especially Calif., our endangered raptor counts ar4e indeed under threat from windmills."

      From windmills? As in, windmills are the primary cause? I find that extraordinarily difficult to believe. Reference?

      "Fukushima, despite the ancient reactor designs, despite their properly shutting down at the quake, despite repeated warnings from geologists, is a government-industry disaster"

      That's kind of academic. Governments (people) build power stations and the argument must surely be that we should take catastrophic events into account as part of the desirability of such facilities. You simply can't argue that 'the science is pure, it's those damn bureaucrats that stuff everything up'. The fact is that for all the great science behind Fukushima, it failed and caused a massive disaster.

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    4. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Thanks for all of those references Alex ... I'll have a wander through them but for me the biggest issue with nukes isn't actually technical - it's political and economic. I think you've hit the nail on the head in the discussion of Fukushima. While ever these things are run by people who are watching the bottom line, cutting costs, paying the lowest wages possible, then safety is negotiable. We don't know what we don't know and the odds are too big ... a very big stake on the table with nukes…

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    5. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Peter Miller

      C'mon up & count the birds, Peter. Actually, windmills in Calif. are more dangerous than our nukes -- 2 killed just last year on windmills, 0 from nukes.

      No one objects to safety being job 1 in all systems. For TEPCO, it never was. Fortunately, our NRC isn't quite the mistress of the industry that NISA has been in Japan.

      The key to success is intelligent, thorough evaluation of reality. The reality is that wind/wave, etc.. are unnecessary, because solar DG, efficiency & nuclear are all we need for thousands of years.

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    6. Peter Miller

      Digital Artist/Sound Designer/Composer at Scribbletronics

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      "The key to success is intelligent, thorough evaluation of reality."

      Oh, I entirely agree. Which is why it bugs me when things like the bird kill statistics are brought up in relation to turbines. Criticize them for other reasons, sure, but that's an invented problem. It just ain't so. C'mon up & count 'em? That's not evidence Alex. Still waiting for stats :)

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    7. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Peter Miller

      Why do I have to give you "states", Peter? In Calif. we're down to ~150 of one endangered raptor that's indeed being found under windmills. And, if you want the "stats" about midwestern bats, etc. look up the piece in AAAS Science last year.

      Wind's engineering & economic realities are bad enough, of course, but don't claim killing important species doesn't happen, just because you don't want to think so.

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    8. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Excellent! I love Aussie speak. Somewhere is my Aussie-Yank dictionary given me by some Jaguar friends down there -- gotta find it!

      One intriguing Japanese tradition' has been the involvement of the Yakuza in everything from banking to nuclear-plant worker outsourcing. The banking problems even brought down venerable Olympus. The nuke workers have moved from plant to plant, getting poor benefits & pay, along with mediocre training. One such worker recorded a day in his life with a watch-camera…

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    9. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Part of the problem here Alex is geography and ecology I suspect.

      We don't have flocks of seasonal migrating stuff like geese funneling themselves into whizzing blades en masse. And we're so flat and spread out that there's a fair bit of scope for them to get through anyway, having long since learned to avoid us. Also, if I might be smug, our birds seem much smarter than your lot.

      Although god help us if a wave of soaring pelicans heading for the inland gets confused - big things with lots…

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    10. Peter Miller

      Digital Artist/Sound Designer/Composer at Scribbletronics

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Stats, not states.

      Hey, you made the claim that raptors are endangered by wind turbines - scientific burden of proof is on you. You can keep saying it's happening, but if you expect me to eat crow, show me the science. No searches I did in AAAS turned up anything at all about wind turbines and raptor endangerment.

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    11. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      It seems that the wind fad is beginning to fade, both from the environmental & financial sides. It'll work itself out, but there will be cleanup for those who follow us!

      For the US, the economics are beginning to be counted -- we mine coal & iron ore, fill cargo ships with them, and bunker oil, ship all to Korea.China, they make steel & massive wind towers, send those back on more oiled ships, we put them up with oil-burning gear, we make 1000 tons of concrete for each one, using oil, and then…

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    12. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Peter Miller

      The midwestern bats analysis was in Science. The Calif. raptor endangerments are in Calif. Wildlife agencies' reports over several years.

      But why do you care? The wind fad is waning, both from the investor and environmental sides...
      http://seekingalpha.com/article/262713-wind-power-investors-get-another-reality-check?source=email_alternative_energy_investing
      www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2011/10/prospects-for-china-wind-turbine-manufacturers-remain-gloomy?cmpid=WNL-Wednesday-October26-2011

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    13. Peter Miller

      Digital Artist/Sound Designer/Composer at Scribbletronics

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Ah, well done Alex. Arguing like a pseudoscientist; can't support your claim - be vague and then change the subject. Tsk.

      I'm not a particular supporter of wind power - I just don't like sloppy 'scientific' conjecture. You claimed that raptors were being endangered by wind turbines. I dispute that claim. If there's substance too it, you should be able to easily direct me to the science.

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    14. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Peter Miller

      Pete...

      Here's a report from the LA Times ... not exactly academic but it does quote some numbers and field ecologists from the US Parks Service.

      http://articles.latimes.com/2011/jun/06/local/la-me-adv-wind-eagles-20110606

      A large part of this as I mentioned is the different geography ... canyons, passes and the like and the nature of the distribution of endangered birds in the US

      The Audobon Society presents a pretty balanced sort of assessment...
      http://policy.audubon.org/audubon-statement-wind-power

      It can be a problem and is one of the issues that needs to be considered in siting these horizontal axis jobs... less so here but I wouldn't be putting them near bird migration routes myself.

      Critics aren't necessarily opponents Pete... play nice.

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    15. Peter Miller

      Digital Artist/Sound Designer/Composer at Scribbletronics

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Interesting that you consider an article in the LA Times to constitute scientific substantiation. If I could point to a newspaper article everytime I wanted to say I had science on my side, I could validate everything from homeopathy to alien abductions.

      Here's the salient point of that article:

      "Killing golden eagles is illegal under federal law, but so far, federal authorities have not prosecuted any wind farm operators for violations."

      You know why that is, Alex? Because no-one has so far managed to convincingly show that wind turbines are the sole cause of these problems. If they could, we'd have seen legal cases well before now. You can be smug when you show me some actual science, which you have failed to do.

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    16. Peter Miller

      Digital Artist/Sound Designer/Composer at Scribbletronics

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      I'm not playing nasty, Peter. I will accept criticism when it's valid. Alex made a claim that I assert is unsubstantiated: that wind farms, specifically, are endangering the raptor populations in the US. I will accept that claim when he provides me some scientific substance, which he has failed to do. He also claimed:

      "wind 'farms' are now know to cause enough damage to birds & bats that the real farm losses, due to uneaten insects, are estimated to exceed the value of all wind power generated…

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    17. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Peter Miller

      Peter, you obviously don't care to do anything but hide from the facts by pushing the responsibility onto others to suit your refined taste for what you call "science". That's not our job.

      If you want to hold a position against something for which there's any evidence at all, develop the supporting info yourself. So far, you've done exactly what you criticize others for -- played your personal opinion as fact. It isn't, so man up & do the work you need yourself. We're not playing into a great sucking sound of passive aggressivity, mate.

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    18. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Peter Miller

      Windmills "are the sole cause" of bird deaths? Really? And who here has said that, Peter.

      You have no evidence that windmills don't kill birds. We have many dead birds underneath them here in Calif. and we're supposed to all kneel down to PeterM for his scientific acumen? Really?

      make an effort yourself, Peter, if you actually care about facts.

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    19. Peter Miller

      Digital Artist/Sound Designer/Composer at Scribbletronics

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Right, so no evidence then. As I thought.

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    20. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Peter Miller

      Audubon Society link doesn't count? Not science?

      The quotes from the US Parks service and field ecologists don't cut it either I guess.

      Obviously we've discovered a technological fix for global warming with these fans ... and hey - it's perfect - no down-sides... all good. And there it was - just on the shelf waiting for us, pre-packed and ready to go. We don't have to change a thing. Ain't the consumer society jest wunnerful?

      So now we have turbines being essentially banned in Victoria - and do you know why Peter - because of the arrogance of the proponents who are behaving just like mining companies on a mission.

      Listen to your critics and learn Peter.

      Strewth.

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    21. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Peter Miller

      ROTFLMAO! Good one Peter!. No , "no evidence" is what you have. Everyone here can now see that.

      Keep trying. The climate deniers play the same linguistic games, to no end.
      ;]

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    22. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Peter Ormonde says
      "So now we have turbines being essentially banned in Victoria - and do you know why Peter - because of the arrogance of the proponents who are behaving just like mining companies on a mission.

      Crap. As this report explains
      "It is clear that the scuttling of the wind industry in Victoria was a deliberate political ploy to appease the coal industry, with the Guardians’ scare campaign simply serving as window dressing to dupe the public into thinking it was all in our interest…

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    23. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      So wind power is a fad.

      Not according to the International Energy Agency.
      "The Wind Roadmap targets 12% of global electricity from wind power by 2050"
      http://www.iea.org/roadmaps/wind.asp

      That compares to 24% for nuclear.
      http://www.iea.org/papers/2010/nuclear_roadmap.pdf

      Of course windfarm developments need to be subject to environmental control.

      But the rest of your argument is a poorly disguised political rant full of anecdote but short on fact.

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    24. Peter Miller

      Digital Artist/Sound Designer/Composer at Scribbletronics

      In reply to Peter Miller

      OK, let's just get something straight here. I am NOT an advocate for wind farms. You have both made an assumption that this is the case solely because I took exception to ONE THING in Alex's comments. The single salient point is that I have a dispute with Alex claiming that windfarms have a disproportionate effect on birds, a claim which I contest. I say it is not based on any scientific evidence. These are Alex's words:

      "Actually, Peter, in the US, especially Calif., our endangered raptor counts…

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    25. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      No question about that Mike - I have been arguing and convincing people about wind power and its potential for many years.

      And do you know what brought it undone - you know what drove average punters into the arms of the coal spruikers - attitudes like yours. Attitudes that regarded any criticism with scorn, any adverse view as opposition ... sheer bloody minded arrogance.

      That's why wind farms have been banned - not because of the activities of a mob of flat earth ratbags - but because the zealots had no idea how to build support and alliances, only to get up on a high moral molehill and attack anyone who dared to criticise or question their cost free, "solution".

      And it will happen again until you lot learn how to make friends with people who don't support you 110%..

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    26. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      I say
      "There is no doubt that large windfarms have an environmental impact including bird strike. They need to be subject to environmental controls

      You say
      "And do you know what brought it undone - you know what drove average punters into the arms of the coal spruikers - attitudes like yours. Attitudes that regarded any criticism with scorn, any adverse view as opposition ... sheer bloody minded arrogance.

      I call crap Peter. I am one of thousands of unit holders in the Hepburn Community…

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    27. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      A fad? A subsidized, low-efficiency, high variability, high maintenance, land/sea-consuming, power=wasting, for trade-consuming...thing, yes. A fad? It was in the '70s here in Calif. See how much lobbying goes into maintaining subsidies.

      And, if you look at investment plans (some links elsewhere here), it's far less promising than continually-improving solar PV & hot-water -- distributed generation.

      Take away the noise, large fossil-fuel burden and even variability and we still have land…

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    28. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      Yes Mike no question that there are real nasty types out there .... and I have followed the Landscape Guardians most carefully.

      But where are your counterveiling forces Mike - your allies, your disinterested locals - your mayors and your neighbours demanding more windfarms... talking about how they have changed the local economy for the better, been an asset to the community?

      Not there mate - because you have found a market by feeding energy into the grid rather than providing the local…

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    29. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Morning Alex...

      A spruiker is a shill ... a mouthpiece, a flim-flam artiste, a carpetbagger....a salesman.... all teeth and fast talking.... flash as a rat with a gold tooth.

      Not sure where this one comes from ... could be German I suspect. I'll try and find out if I have time today but I have to plant a few avocados while the rain holds off.

      I had a flock of eastern grey kangaroos on the front yard this morning - quite lovely. They come in this time of year.

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  7. Mark Hadfield

    logged in via Facebook

    A link to the article in Nature Climate Change would be nice.

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  8. Mark Hadfield

    logged in via Facebook

    The above post refers to "a study that revealed an increase in temperature of 0.72 degrees over a region of Texas where four large wind farms have been built" and the abstract of the article in Nature Climate Change says to "Our results show a significant warming trend of up to 0.72 °C per decade, particularly at night-time, over wind farms relative to nearby non-wind-farm regions."

    Both are a little misleading, for different reasons. The blog post takes a trend and reports it as an increase. The scientific article uses a trend to quantify an effect that is likely to be in fact a step change; i.e. to maintain that trend in future one would have to build new wind farms at a steady rate. The latter point is not just a quibble. Each wind farm (apparently) raises the local temperature but also (presumably) leads to less anthropogenic CO2 being emitted and thereby cools the planet. The warming is a oncer, the cooling accumulates over the lifetime of the wind farm.

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    1. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Mark Hadfield

      Surely, Mark. However, the CO2-reduction effect depends on what power sources are being replaced. So, if local solar or nuclear or hydro were used, the offset disappears and the offset in warming (and other effects) remains.

      The key to making wise decisions is long-term thinking -- hard for mist of us -- and wind power has many more long-term penalties than do some other forms of generation.

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    2. Mark Hadfield

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      I am not convinced, Alex, that "wind power has many more long-term penalties than do some other forms of generation". However my comments was not directly about that, it was simply pointing out the need for care in distinguishing between changes and rates of change.

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    3. Derek Bolton

      Retired s/w engineer

      In reply to Mark Hadfield

      Yes, I wondered about that, then noticed it was against a background of a trend upwards in neighbouring areas. So if the background trend is even higher several metres up, it is possible that a steeper trend would be seen under the turbines. I tried to check the published paper but hit a paywall.

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    4. Derek Bolton

      Retired s/w engineer

      In reply to Mark Hadfield

      Found this quote from the researcher:
      “The estimated warming trends only apply to the study region and to the study period, and thus should not be interpolated into other regions, globally or over longer periods,” Zhou said. “For a given wind farm, once there are no new wind turbines added, the warming effect may reach a stable level.”

      Source: Clean Technica (http://s.tt/1auK4)

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  9. Natural Rain

    logged in via Facebook

    This whole article smells of debunkers that are pro oil users!
    Based upon satellite data of a given time span of less than a decade we absolutely confirm that......global....yada...warming....yada.......yada!
    For those that spend too much time behind a media screen and have the tech to input data into charts, that are paid several thousands to publish said article, let me get you back to the common sense answers here.
    1. time frame in question was start period of Texas severe drought…

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    1. Alex Cannara

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Natural Rain

      Maybe fine critiques, but wind farms have long been a subsidized scam, and their inefficiencies are becoming more clear to all involved, so they'll pass. Of course, the investors won't clean up after themselves, just as they didn't here in the '70s. Those 1000-ton foundations are a bit tough to get out & recycle.

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