It gets tiresome to note the limitations and lamosity of niche wind power, but who’d have thought that wind power might also make global warming worse. But that’s just what a new Harvard study reported recently the MIT Technology Review concludes.
Wind power is booming in the United States. It’s expanded 35-fold since 2000 and now provides 8% of the nation’s electricity. The US Department of Energy expects wind turbine capacity to more than quadruple again by 2050.
But a new study by a pair of Harvard researchers finds that a high amount of wind power could mean more climate warming, at least regionally and in the immediate decades ahead. The paper raises serious questions about just how much the United States or other nations should look to wind power to clean up electricity systems.
The study, published in the journal Joule, found that if wind power supplied all US electricity demands, it would warm the surface of the continental United States by 0.24 ˚C. That could significantly exceed the reduction in US warming achieved by decarbonizing the nation’s electricity sector this century, which would be around 0.1 ˚C.
Well that will harsh your green mellow. The complete study is behind a paywall, but the summary is even more devastating than the Tech Review writeup:
We find that generating today’s US electricity demand (0.5 TWe) with wind power would warm Continental US surface temperatures by 0.24°C. Warming arises, in part, from turbines redistributing heat by mixing the boundary layer. Modeled diurnal and seasonal temperature differences are roughly consistent with recent observations of warming at wind farms, reflecting a coherent mechanistic understanding for how wind turbines alter climate.
And another reminder, this time from Bloomberg, that electric cars aren’t all they’re cranked up to be in terms of reducing emissions:
Beneath the hoods of millions of the clean electric cars rolling onto the world’s roads in the next few years will be a dirty battery.
Every major carmaker has plans for electric vehicles to cut greenhouse gas emissions, yet their manufacturers are, by and large, making lithium-ion batteries in places with some of the most polluting grids in the world. . .
Just to build each car battery—weighing upwards of 500 kilograms (1,100 pounds) in size for sport-utility vehicles—would emit up to 74 percent more C02 than producing an efficient conventional car if it’s made in a factory powered by fossil fuels in a place like Germany, according to Berylls’ findings. . .
For perspective, the average German car owner could drive a gas-guzzling vehicle for three and a half years, or more than 50,000 kilometers, before a Nissan Leaf with a 30 kWh battery would beat it on carbon-dioxide emissions in a coal-heavy country, Berylls estimates show.
Just how many ways can the whole green racket fail?
But China will save us! They’re investing way more than we are, we are constantly told by Thomas Friedman and other betters. Well guess what mom? From the BBC:
Building work has restarted at hundreds of Chinese coal-fired power stations, according to an analysis of satellite imagery.
The research, carried out by green campaigners CoalSwarm, suggests that 259 gigawatts of new capacity are under development in China.
The authors say this is the same capacity to produce electricity as the entire US coal fleet.
Read that last sentence again and let it sink in. And then shut up about China.