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Are wind farms changing Europe's climate?

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The development of wind farms in Europe only has an extremely limited impact on the climate at the continental scale, and this will remain true until at least 2020.win

These are the main conclusions of a study carried out by researchers from CNRS, CEA and UVSQ[1], in collaboration with INERIS and ENEA, the Italian agency for new technologies, energy and sustainable development. These results were established using climate simulations that included the effect on the atmosphere of wind farms located in Europe, on the basis of a realistic scenario forecasting a two-fold increase in wind energy production by 2020, in accordance with European countries’ commitments.

Published on the website of the journal Nature Communications on 11 February 2014, the work highlights the importance of carrying out fresh studies to assess the impact of wind energy development by 2050.

The effects of a massive deployment of wind energy production facilities (often called wind farms) had never been quantified precisely to this day. However, on the basis of idealized scenarios of gigantic wind farm deployment, several recent studies have shown that atmospheric circulation can be modified, as well as temperatures and precipitation. A significant increase in temperatures was observed, especially at night, near these farms. It turns out that at night, wind turbines mix the atmosphere more than they do during the day, which reduces cooling near the ground. However, no study had yet attempted to quantify the climatic effect of a realistic wind energy development scenario on a continental scale. In Europe, this is a particularly important issue, since energy production is set to double between 2012 and 2020, in accordance with European countries’ commitments.

Source: Science Daily/University of Toronto

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