Using wind power, not so green?

This is pure conjecture, but it’s something I’ve been thinking about since 2002, when I first saw the gigantic windmills in Germany. Now that it seems like “wind farms” are a certainty for the USA, and I know that when we set our minds to something in this country, we tend to go overboard. Right now we say we need wind power because oil is so bad for the environment, but I know enough about physics to know about conservation of energy and I know barely anything about meteorology… but what happens when there are enough wind farms set up to make a serious dent in our exorbitant energy demands? That has got to have some kind of effect on weather patterns. There’s just no getting around that. Perhaps the effect will be small enough to go unnoticed, but remember our tendency to go overboard? I’m worried we’ll be jumping from one global crisis into another. Anyhow, I just wanted to set the stage for an “I told you so” on the off chance that I’m right and no scientists have bothered to think this through. I mean, what are the odds of that, right?

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  • Jay  On July 20, 2008 at 10:21 am

    Well, the wind farms remove energy from one location, then transfer via electricity to another. Similarly, the desert “solar farms” do the same.

    Even worse is the space based solar harvesting as this takes energy that would not be hitting Earth in the first place and adding it.

    I have more of an issue with the fear mongering viewpoint the media takes that _any_ change to where things are (or were) is bad.

    But back to your original post, turn it around, build a giant ship covered with windmills and send it in to hurricanes reducing their and harvesting their power!

  • wolfger  On July 20, 2008 at 10:38 am

    Space-based solar harvesting would be great. Steal the energy that only other planets will miss. Of course, getting that energy to Earth has its own problems…

    The giant windmill-bearing hurricane-taming ship is amusing, but still:
    1) problems getting the power where it needs to be
    2) affecting global weather (are hurricanes purely destructive, or do they serve some purpose?)
    3) very expensive if the hurricane destroys the ship

  • Stephen  On July 20, 2008 at 12:28 pm

    One of the fears with wind is dead birds. The reports, though, are that there aren’t flocks of dead birds at the base of windmills.

    It’s hard to imagine that even lots of windmills will have much of an effect on our weather. We’ve already got trees.

    The main complaint with nuclear isn’t the heat they produce. The waste heat (which should be used to warm houses and make hot water – guys, this isn’t rocket science) currently is vented into the atmosphere, where it efficiently radiates inti space. The problem is with waste radioactive material, which lasts millions of years.

  • Greg  On July 20, 2008 at 1:06 pm

    I thought about this point myself before, wolfger. But, then I realized that my viewpoint was basically “we can’t change anything without it being anti-environmentalist.” And by anything I mean, building a skyscrapper, planting trees (as Stephen said), planting crops, etc etc. At some point we have to say “hey, we are having a LARGE effect on this planet with all of our actions, we at least better make the most environmentally sound choices.”

    Now, have there been studies about the effects of large wind farms on the jet stream/etc? I’m not sure, I haven’t looked into it (I might now). Have there been studies on the effects of using vast amounts of CO2 producing oil? Yes, a ton of those studies. So, right now, my vote is with wind/solar.

  • wolfger  On July 20, 2008 at 1:49 pm

    Yes, we’ve already got trees… Windmills (the one’s I’m talking about) tower *above* the trees. By, like, a lot. You could probably stack a tree on top of a tree and not be in the way of the blades. Check the pic…

  • Alastair  On October 21, 2008 at 4:13 pm

    I’ve been asking these questions for some time now. I read on one site that windfarms have a vertical component and could have an effect on the jetstream, and possibly one of the causes of massive flooding in U.K. in 2007. We could just possibly be having a bigger man made cause of climate change with windfarms than with CO2.

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