Isn’t the global media just wonderful at blowing things massively and unprecedentedly out of proportion, when the prospect of a big story is just too tantalising to exaggerate.
This time its victim is renewable energy and the wind industry in particular, which recently came into the public eye when a study undertaken by the University of Albany, with Liming Zhou at the head, produced results which suggested large-scale wind farms can affect nighttime temperatures in the local area. Their data seemed to show an increase in temperature by roughly 0.7˚C over the last decade in Texas, explaining this oddity via the influence the turbines can have on air currents and mixing. As they turn, they draw hot air from above down into the colder air below, therefore slightly increasing the temperatures in the region.
Now, they go on to say that this effect is ‘local and small compared to strong year-to-year changes’ and again repeat at the end of the Guardian article, that this is by no means a paper advocating the blocking of wind energy, and that it could easily have positive effects, especially considering this is just one of only two studies ever carried out on the subject, and over just 9 years in one area. The scientific method demands much more information than this.
So in essence, this paper is merely saying that the highly localised region of Texas where these huge, and I repeat huge, wind farms have been erected, seems to experience some increased nighttime temperatures, but only on a small-scale and of much much less amplitude than usual climate variations. An interesting, but by no means worrying or alarming result, but should definitely be considered in future wind policy.
Unfortunately, the media have decided to spin the story a little bit, with science as the tried and tested victim. Outlets such as FOX news and the Telegraph have erupted headlines on the subject, generally following along the lines of ‘Wind Farms Cause The Global Climate To Warm’ and that sort of thing, effectively cherry picking some of the words used in the original study, and adding their own in the process.