Wind farms have negligible impact on climate

Wind turbines in large wind farms cause only slight changes in temperature, cloud and rainfall in the region of the wind farms. Globally, the change is negligible. Therefore, there should not be any fear that the operation of wind farms increases climate change.

This conclusion was reached by researcher Anna Fitch in a study of wind farm impacts on regional and global climate. With a climate model, Fitch has studied how the climate is affected if wind farms covering 16, 65 or 130 percent of the expected global electricity demand in 2050 were built.

The results from the model study are published in the Journal of Climate. The article shows that the effects of wind farms are much smaller than those expected due to emissions of greenhouse gases.

“I have studied the impacts on climate, both near the wind farms and globally. Even in the case with the greatest number of wind turbines, to provide 130 percent of the electricity demand in 2050, the average temperature change is less than 0.2 °C in the wind farm areas.  The global average change is negligible,” says Anna Fitch, now a researcher at the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute’s (SMHI’s) Rossby Centre for climate research.

In the study, Fitch has investigated the potential climate impacts of a large-scale global deployment of wind turbines over land for a sixty-year period. The global climate model CAM5 is used.

The main part of the study was conducted by Fitch when she worked for the US National Center for Atmospheric Research. Since 2014, she has worked at SMHI.