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US wind farms face lack of fuel

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Joined: 24 Nov 2005
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 11, 2009 11:38 am    Post subject: US wind farms face lack of fuel Reply with quote

Although too early to say if their suspicions will play out in the long run, it is a good example of the inter-twining of Peak Oil (and the need for energy security) and Climate Change...


The great gusting winds of the Midwest may be dying, and with them hope for America's most promising source of green energy, according to a new report.

A study to be published in August in the Journal of Geophysical Research suggests average and peak winds may have been slowing across the Midwest and eastern states since 1973. The findings are preliminary, but measurements by wind towers raise the possibility of yet another side effect of global warming.

"We noted some periods in the past ... where there was a pretty substantial decrease in wind speed for 12 consecutive months," Eugene Takle of Iowa State University and one of the authors, told the Guardian. "We suspect it's some large scale influence we don't yet understand."

Areas of the Midwest have seen a 10% drop in wind speed over the decade. Some places have seen a jump in days where there was none at all. Takle said climate modelling suggested a further 10% dip may occur over the next 40 years. "Generally we expect there'll probably be a decline in speeds due to climate change."

The US is the world's largest producer of wind power; investment hit $17bn last year, and turbines are now a common sight. The American Wind Energy Association had no immediate comment, but a 10% fall in peak winds could translate into a 27% cut in energy, Takle said.

Gavin Schmidt, a climate scientist at Nasa, told the Guardian: "It's very preliminary. My feeling is that it's way too premature to be talking about the impact this makes."


'Being green is not what you think, it is what you do.'
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Joined: 24 Nov 2005
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Location: Cambridge

PostPosted: Thu Jun 11, 2009 11:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

So a smaller temperature gradient from equator to poles might reduce the pressure differential and the energy in the global wind systems overall.

However, the increased solar energy retained by the planet as a result of increased greenhouse effect has to be dissipated and distributed somehow. How do the poles get to be warmer anyway? Very little energy reaches them from direct solar radiation. That leaves ocean currents and winds as the main energy vectors.

Do we really know how climate change will affect the chaotic system which is the global weather system and ocean currents and local climates? I don't think we do. We may go through a series of meta-stable states over the decades and millennia.

It is certain that there is going to be more energy to dissipate. A reasonable conclusion is that dissipation will require more extreme weather events in the future, even if some aspects like average wind speeds might fall in some areas.
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 11, 2009 4:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thats because they installed too many wind turbines and have used up the wind, leaving less wind for future generations Laughing

More seriously, I would expect a warming climate to mean greater average wind speeds and more potential wind power, as may be the case in the UK.
At any event one should not worry too much about short term trends, that a bit like forgetting about global warming after one cold winter.
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