Wind Turbines Have Very Little Impact on Climate

The development of wind farms in Europe should have a negligible effect on the climate, new study says

Wind Turbines Have Very Little Impact on Climate

Several recent studies have shown that wind farms could change the climate on a local scale. The results of a new study are very reassuring. Researchers from France’s CNRS, CEA and UVSQ believe that the climatic impact is “extremely low on the scale of the continent.” In Europe, the question is all the more important as wind energy production is expected to double between 2012 and 2020, and even more by 2050.

Several recent studies have shown that wind farms could change the climate on a local scale. The results of a new study are very reassuring. Researchers from France’s CNRS, CEA and UVSQ believe that the climatic impact is “extremely low on the scale of the continent.” In Europe, the question is all the more important as wind energy production is expected to double between 2012 and 2020, and even more by 2050.

Cet article est également disponible  en  français :  Les éoliennes impactent très peu le climat

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Published last week in the journal Nature Communications, the study is the first to quantify the potential effects of a massive roll-out of wind turbines. For some time, the question has fueled debate between pro- and anti-turbine groups. According to the French researchers, the impact will be negligible. They refer to differences that are “significantly lower than those due to natural variability of the climate and to climate change caused by increasing greenhouse gases.”

The estimates were calculated using climate simulations carried out with and without wind turbines. The model takes into account the turbulence generated in the atmosphere by turbine blades, as well as a doubling of wind energy production by 2020, in accordance with the commitments of European countries

The results: a temperature difference of no more than 0.3°C and variation in seasonal precipitation totals of 5%, at the most. The researchers attribute these differences to a slight rotation of westerly winds in Western Europe toward the north.

By 2050, wind energy production could double, or even triple, relative to the estimations used in this model. Robert Vautard, who led the research, thus calls for more studies to be conducted, using different models and scenarios of large-scale wind turbine development.