Could wind farms cause global warming, possibly even more than fossil fuels? A new Harvard University study suggests they could.
A Harvard University study suggests that, under certain conditions and in the near term, increased wind power could mean more climate warming than would be caused by the use of fossil fuels to generate electricity. The study found that if wind power supplied all U.S. electricity demands, it would warm the surface of the continental United States by 0.24 ˚C, which could significantly exceed the reduction in U.S. warming achieved by decarbonizing the nation’s electricity sector this century—around 0.1 ˚C. The warming effect depends strongly on local weather conditions, as well as the type and placement of the wind turbines.
According to the Harvard researchers, the findings closely matched directly observed effects from hundreds of U.S. wind farms. In the Harvard scenario, the warming effect from wind was 10 times greater than the climate effect from solar farms, which can also have a warming effect. The Harvard University researchers also concluded that the transition to wind or solar power in the United States would require 5 to 20 times more land than previously thought.