05.02.2012 0

Another heavy blow to the wind industry

By Rebekah Rast — The wind energy industry got some more hot air knocked out of it recently.

Discovery News reports, “wind farms actually warm up the surface of the land underneath them during the night, a phenomenon that could put a damper on efforts to expand wind energy as a green energy solution.

Aside from killing a half-million birds and bats without penalty every year, are wind farms now contributing to the so-called global warming crisis?

Research using satellite data from 2003 to 2011 of wind farms over a wide spread area of west Texas showed nighttime ground temperature rose about 1.3 degrees Fahrenheit.  The wind farms themselves aren’t creating the heat; they are simply bringing the hot air down to the surface.

Liming Zhou, associate professor at the State University of New York, Albany, who led the study, told Discovery News, “Given the present installed capacity and the projected growth in installation of wind farms across the world, I feel that wind farms, if spatially large enough, might have noticeable impacts on local to regional meteorology.”

Though Zhou admits more research needs to be done on the warming effects of these turbine farms, this news isn’t very helpful to the wind industry that is attempting to secure more funding from Congress. Also not helpful is the amount of opposition this is one renewable industry has received, even from environmentalists.

Michael Boyd, president of the Board of Directors for CAlifornia Renewable Energy (CARE), says the amount of wilderness damage done by wind farms far outweighs the benefits.  Organizations like his look at the impact wind farms have on wildlife and endangered or protected species. For example, the Altamont Pass wind farm in California was ruled a complete disaster by environmentalists because protected bird species, like eagles and hawks, were getting indiscriminately killed by the propellers of the turbines.

Lawsuits also seem to be inevitable at the mention of a new wind farm. Cape Wind, an off-shore wind farm project in Massachusetts, faced opposition from environmental groups, claiming the Endangered Species Act (EPA) would be violated by the large farm, and from the area’s fishermen.  Some are also put off by the 400-foot turbine if it happens to be going up in their field of vision.

With its opposition and relatively low energy-producing levels—in 2010, it accounted for 2.3 percent of all electricity generated in the U.S.—is this industry one that can stand on its own or will the government continue to subsidize it? Though this data shows relatively low temperate change from wind farms, it could be one more mark against this renewable energy industry.

John Dabiri, director of the Center for Bioinspired Wind Energy at the California Institute of Technology, also an expert on wind power design, told Discovery News this about Zhou’s findings on the ground warming:  “It shows that we need to think carefully about the unintended environmental consequences of any large-scale energy development, including green technologies.”

Hopefully, Congress will take this expert’s advice to heart and stop spending taxpayer dollars to prop up Big Wind.  This industry not only kills birds and creates a black eye on some of America’s most picturesque wilderness areas, but is now also proven to increase the ground temperatures in areas where it has a footprint.

Rebekah Rast is a contributing editor to Americans for Limited Government (ALG) and NetRightDaily.com.  You can follow her on twitter at @RebekahRast.

Copyright © 2008-2020 Americans for Limited Government