GRA
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GCC: Harvard team finds large-scale US wind power would cause warming that would take roughly a century to offset

Sat Oct 06, 2018 2:49 pm

http://www.greencarcongress.com/2018/10/20181005-wind.html

All large-scale energy systems have environmental impacts, and the ability to compare the impacts of renewable energy sources is an important step in planning a future without coal or gas power. Extracting energy from the wind causes climatic impacts that are small compared to current projections of 21st century warming, but large compared to the effect of reducing US electricity emissions to zero with solar.

In the journal Joule, Harvard researchers report the most accurate modelling yet of how increasing wind power would affect climate. They find that large-scale wind power generation would warm the Continental United States 0.24 degrees Celsius because wind turbines redistribute heat in the atmosphere.

    Wind beats coal by any environmental measure, but that doesn’t mean that its impacts are negligible. We must quickly transition away from fossil fuels to stop carbon emissions. In doing so, we must make choices between various low-carbon technologies, all of which have some social and environmental impacts.

    —senior author David Keith, an engineering and public policy professor at Harvard. . . .

To compare the impacts of wind and solar, Keith and Miller started by establishing a baseline for the 2012-2014 US climate using a standard weather forecasting model. Then they added in the effect on the atmosphere of covering one third of the Continental US with enough wind turbines to meet present-day US electricity demand. This is a relevant scenario if wind power plays a major role in decarbonizing the energy system in the latter half of this century. This scenario would warm the surface temperature of the Continental US by 0.24 degrees Celsius.

Their analysis focused on the comparison of climate impacts and benefits. They found that it would take about a century to offset that effect with wind-related reductions in greenhouse gas concentrations. This timescale was roughly independent of the specific choice of total wind power generation in their scenarios.

    The direct climate impacts of wind power are instant, while the benefits accumulate slowly. If your perspective is the next 10 years, wind power actually has—in some respects—more climate impact than coal or gas. If your perspective is the next thousand years, then wind power is enormously cleaner than coal or gas.

    —David Keith. . . .

More than ten previous studies have now observed local warming caused by US wind farms. Keith and Miller compared their simulated warming to observations and found rough consistency between the observations and model. . . .

[list]In terms of temperature difference per unit of energy generation, solar power has about 10 times less impact than wind. But there are other considerations. For example, solar farms are dense, whereas the land between wind turbines can be co-utilized for agriculture.

—Lee Miller. . . . [/list]

Keith and Miller's simulations do not consider any impacts on global-scale meteorology, so it remains somewhat uncertain how such a deployment of wind power may affect the climate in other countries. . . .

This research was funded by the Fund for Innovative Climate and Energy Research. David Keith is a board member and acting chief scientist at Carbon Engineering, a clean energy company that aims to make carbon-neutral transportation fuels from wind and solar power.

The bolded quote is something I've been emphasizing since I was designing and selling off-grid equipment and systems. Every tech or approach has an impact, you make choices based on the advantages and disadvantages of each and your priorities. TAANSTAAFL.
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SageBrush
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Re: GCC: Harvard team finds large-scale US wind power would cause warming that would take roughly a century to offset

Sat Oct 06, 2018 3:28 pm

This sounds like heat re-distribution.
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GRA
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Re: GCC: Harvard team finds large-scale US wind power would cause warming that would take roughly a century to offset

Sat Oct 06, 2018 4:22 pm

SageBrush wrote:This sounds like heat re-distribution.

Uh, yeah:
They find that large-scale wind power generation would warm the Continental United States 0.24 degrees Celsius because wind turbines redistribute heat in the atmosphere.
Guy [I have lots of experience designing/selling off-grid AE systems, some using EVs but don't own one. Local trips are by foot, bike and/or rapid transit].

The 'best' is the enemy of 'good enough'. Copper shot, not Silver bullets.

RonDawg
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Re: GCC: Harvard team finds large-scale US wind power would cause warming that would take roughly a century to offset

Sat Oct 06, 2018 4:57 pm

I think the take away from this is that there's no such thing as "guilt-free" power generation. All the known ways have their downsides, even if we are not aware of them at first. For example, before this article, there was concern about large wind turbines killing off birds. Another power generation method that has been known to kill birds (literally in mid-air) is the concentrated solar method like at the Ivanpah plant outside of Las Vegas.

I've heard people talk of hydroelectric as "clean" electricity and while that is true from a fuels standpoint, it's got its own considerable environmental impacts. And of course, nuclear power generation has a lot of its own impacts, and concerns about safety.
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SageBrush
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Re: GCC: Harvard team finds large-scale US wind power would cause warming that would take roughly a century to offset

Sat Oct 06, 2018 5:07 pm

GRA wrote:
SageBrush wrote:This sounds like heat re-distribution.

Uh, yeah:
They find that large-scale wind power generation would warm the Continental United States 0.24 degrees Celsius because wind turbines redistribute heat in the atmosphere.

It is an important distinction to make. E.g., the oceans are not involved. And as wind is sited higher up the effect diminishes. Nor does it affect the ice masses.
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DarthPuppy
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Re: GCC: Harvard team finds large-scale US wind power would cause warming that would take roughly a century to offset

Sun Oct 07, 2018 6:24 pm

Did I read that correctly?

Did their study conclude that wind generation is worse for global warming than burning coal or natural gas in the short term? And it only works out as better than coal or gas in the 100 to 1,000 year view?

I can see solar being better than wind in that regard. But I find it hard to believe that the operation of a wind turbine is going to cause more heat per unit of energy produced than burning a fossil fuel. Also, burning that fossil fuel needs to be burdened with the production impacts to extract it, transport it, refine it, and transport it again to where it will be burned.

Please tell me I misread that.
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WetEV
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Re: GCC: Harvard team finds large-scale US wind power would cause warming that would take roughly a century to offset

Sun Oct 07, 2018 7:11 pm

DarthPuppy wrote:Did I read that correctly?

Did their study conclude that wind generation is worse for global warming than burning coal or natural gas in the short term? And it only works out as better than coal or gas in the 100 to 1,000 year view?


If you look only at the USA Midwest surface only... Wind power changes local climate, not global climate. And not by heating the air, rather by mixing the air better.
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Nubo
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Re: GCC: Harvard team finds large-scale US wind power would cause warming that would take roughly a century to offset

Sun Oct 07, 2018 8:37 pm

The perfect is the enemy of the good.
I noticed you're still working with polymers.

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Re: GCC: Harvard team finds large-scale US wind power would cause warming that would take roughly a century to offset

Sun Oct 07, 2018 8:49 pm

Harvard is known for being a factory for industry-friendly studies.
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RegGuheert
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Re: GCC: Harvard team finds large-scale US wind power would cause warming that would take roughly a century to offset

Mon Oct 08, 2018 6:51 am

LeftieBiker wrote:Harvard is known for being a factory for industry-friendly studies.
Tossing in an ad-hominem fallacy adds nothing to this discussion.

In addition, let's not lose sight of the plain fact that the manufacture, distribution, and operation of wind turbines is, itself, a massive, growing industry.
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