Climate fears over wind farms discounted by study

Wind farms probably will not change the climate much, at least not in the near future, a new study says.

A study in Europe was the first to quantify the effects of these systems of towers and wind-driven generators. Costa Rica has several and more are planned.

The European study used simulations to determine that fears of the effects were not justified.  Several recent studies have shown that atmospheric circulation can be modified, as well as temperatures and precipitation, said researchers. The study was in Nature Communications Tuesday.

This study was led by two French laboratories: the Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l’Environnement, which belongs to the Institut Pierre-Simon Laplace, and the Institut de Technico-Économie des Systèmes Énergétiques, according to a release.

Experts expect the number of wind farms to double by 2020.

Earlier studies showed a significant increase in temperatures was observed, especially at
night, near these wind farms, but it turns out that at night wind turbines mix the atmosphere more than they do during the day, which reduces cooling near the ground, the researchers noted.

Fruit producers know this because peace growers use windmills to drive away cold air during times of threatening frost that may harm blossoms.

The researchers said that the main conclusion is that differences caused by wind turbines remain very small compared to natural climate variability: in some regions, the difference in temperature reaches 0.3 degrees C at the most, and a decrease in accumulated seasonal precipitation of a few percent was observed 

The study did not address the effect of wind turbines on birds, which is being considered a major problem.

In Costa Rica the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad has wind generation high on its list of alternative energy priorities.

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