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How Good is Wind Power for the Environment?

Wind turbines come with a lot of problems. Wind power might not be as good an option as we once thought.

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For years, wind turbines have been thought of as a good alternative to fossil fuels like coal and oil. However, since the 1980s, there have been reports of noise, nausea, and headaches by neighbors. The culprits are infrasound and subsonic vibrations.

Another problem is that the wind doesn’t blow all the time. A wind turbine is usually only able to produce 5% of its installed max power. This means that no power grid can ever be entirely wind-based, as some sort of more stable back up would be needed.

Finally, the costs have been high. Wind turbines are built from steel and concrete; expensive resources that require much energy to mine, produce, and manufacture. Both in terms of energy and cost-efficiency, wind power has made little sense.

Causes Warming?

Two Harvard scientists, Lee Miller and David Keith, recently published an article in Joule in which they modeled the impact of increasing the U.S. installed wind power by a factor of 18, considering realistic commercial placement patterns. Their finding indicated slower winds and regional warming significantly beyond the area with wind turbines.

They also found that the climate impact was ten times greater than with solar panels, which is a conclusion they argue should be used as background information for policymakers.

Are Models Accurate?

One thing to keep in mind is that this study is not based on observation but rather on climate models. Despite exponential increases in computing power, models are still not good at predicting either global or regional climate patterns.

Therefore, one must judge studies that rely heavily on computer models very carefully In the wind power study, the model produces an output that makes physical sense. We already know that cities and other human land changes have dramatic effects on regional and local climate, and there is no reason to believe wind turbines are exceptions to this.

Onar Åm

International Correspondent at and Onar is a Norwegian author who has written extensively on politics, technology, and science. He has a mathematics and physics background and has been a technological entrepreneur for twenty years, working in areas ranging from biomass gasification and AI to 3D cameras and 3D TV. He is currently also the Editor of the alternative news site Ekte Nyheter (Authentic News) in Norway. Onar is the author of The Climate Bubble (2007) and The Art of War (2008).

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