The Washington Post has published an article called “Can Wind Farms Change the Weather” which at first caused a certain ambivalence in me between ‘who cares’ and is this a doomsday scenario? Well, if you are a person who doesn’t like the sight, smell, sound or even mention of wind turbines, then you may latch onto this article with some glee.
The gist of the article is that yes, large scale, thousand plus turbine wind farms could have some effect on the weather. But, does this really matter? According to the WP the downwind turbulence from the turbine blades could dry out the soil a bit and have a small impact on storms.
But, what fails to come through clearly is that any structure built upon a barren plain in the Midwest could have a small impact on the weather. Other things that impact the weather include skyscrapers and other large structures built on any land anywhere, trees (large, small, a forest or just a few), other towers such as for power lines, the turbulence caused by large commercial jets taking off and landing.
Anytime the landscape is changed in a significant way, yes, this can impact the weather. Now, to put forth the worst case scenario of large wind farms having significant impact is at best a scare tactic and at worst, really a non-story.
Will large wind farms cause massive tornadoes, flooding, electric storm chaos and another Hurricane Katrina? No. Will they have some impact? Of course. Put a thousand people on a large plot of land and there will be different impacts, too. But, it’s not catastrophic and we deal with it.