Wind power has room to grow before climate is impacted
How much wind is too much? We've got a ways to go, scientists say.
Nobody worried about climate change in the ancient world, when Odysseus implored Aeolus to imprison the winds in a bag so he could sail home safely from Troy.
But wind is an essential part of the earth's climate and health, and taking away wind could change the weather and the global climate.
Wind power -- a potent source of clean electricity and darling of the environmental lobby -- generates no pollution, but it does slow down the wind, thus possibly changing the climate.
The drag of turbines decreases the momentum of the wind and slows it, and the more wind turbines get put up, the greater the effect.
But how many turbines would it take to make a noticeable change in the earth's climate?
A whole lot, say scientists from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, so don't worry about it.
Kate Marvel and colleagues from the lab used computer climate models to guess what it would take for a modern Aeolus to slow the winds enough to make any difference.
Today the total demand for electricity on planet earth is about 18 terawatts. Building enough wind turbines to provide all that power would raise the surface temperature of the earth just 0.2 degrees Fahrenheit, and change rain- and snowfall by about 1 percent.
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