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snopes 08 October 2013 02:23 AM

Rep. Joe Barton on wind power
 
Comment: US Rep Joe Barton, member of House Committee on Energy, quoted as
saying: "Wind is a finite resource and harnessing it would slow the winds
down, which would cause the temperature to go up."

Gutter Monkey 08 October 2013 05:59 AM

As reported by Time magazine!

Quote:

2. That said, Barton has used the threat of global warming to combat something he hates even more: wind energy. In a 2009 hearing, Barton implied that wind is a "finite resource" and that harnessing it would "slow the winds down" which would "cause the temperature to go up."
http://content.time.com/time/politic...997963,00.html

http://grist.org/article/2009-04-20-...blicans-bring/

I think this article from the Washington Monthly has the actual quote:
Quote:

"Wind is God's way of balancing heat. Wind is the way you shift heat from areas where it's hotter to areas where it's cooler. That's what wind is. Wouldn't it be ironic if in the interest of global warming we mandated massive switches to energy, which is a finite resource, which slows the winds down, which causes the temperature to go up? Now, I'm not saying that's going to happen, Mr. Chairman, but that is definitely something on the massive scale. I mean, it does make some sense. You stop something, you can't transfer that heat, and the heat goes up. It's just something to think about."

Skeptic 08 October 2013 06:21 AM

Quote:

Wind is the way you shift heat from areas where it's hotter to areas where it's cooler.
Actually, it's the other way around. Hot air rises, cooler air takes its place.

Troberg 08 October 2013 07:17 AM

Well, it's true, except that you'd have to do something like cover the entire earth in a 20 km thick layer of wind turbines for that to happen.

Incidentally, that's approximately on the same magnitude as the amound of wind turbines needed to replace other energy sources.

ganzfeld 08 October 2013 09:10 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Troberg (Post 1774079)
[...] cover the entire earth in a 20 km thick layer [...] Incidentally, that's approximately on the same magnitude as the amound of wind turbines needed to replace other energy sources.

Citation needed.

GenYus234 08 October 2013 03:59 PM

This article on a TVA wind farm says the turbines develop 1.8 megawatts each. Wikipedia says that worldwide energy consumption in 2008 was 143 petawatts. That works out to about 8 million turbines of that size, or about 1 turbine every 7 square miles.

ETA: Of course, that assumes that there are no other methods of generation electricity.

A Turtle Named Mack 08 October 2013 09:44 PM

That, of course, assumes similar wind-generation capacity across the world. Those TVA turbines are at the top of a ridge where one can expect a lot of wind most of the time. Most areas are much less reliable. And after a certain point of concentration of turbines, you really do get interference of the turbines with each other, as the wind is reduced and redirected by pushing past the blades.

GenYus234 08 October 2013 10:16 PM

Sure, but turbines can be concentrated a lot more than 1 per 7 square miles. The site I linked to has 18 turbines on a 2 mile long ridge. And at 78m tall, it would take about 4,000 of them to reach 20 km high. At that level of stacking, you could put about 1% of all the required turbines on that one 2 mile long site.

jimmy101_again 08 October 2013 10:22 PM

More importantly, it assumes that the turbines are operating at 100% speed 100% of the time, which is pretty unlikely. If the net efficiency (including transmission losses) is 10% you would need roughly one tower per square mile.

A Turtle Named Mack 08 October 2013 10:39 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by GenYus234 (Post 1774286)
Sure, but turbines can be concentrated a lot more than 1 per 7 square miles. The site I linked to has 18 turbines on a 2 mile long ridge. And at 78m tall, it would take about 4,000 of them to reach 20 km high. At that level of stacking, you could put about 1% of all the required turbines on that one 2 mile long site.

Wind turbines at 20 km would not be very effective, what with the air being so thin.

ETA: But if you are going to build 20 km tall towers, you could get kickass solar power generation up there.

geminilee 08 October 2013 10:46 PM

Quote:

Wouldn't it be ironic if in the interest of global warming we mandated massive switches to energy, which is a finite resource,
If only the Earth had something to provide energy to power the wind from an outside source. Like, some source of heat to keep the air masses moving. Like maybe we could put a great big ball of fire in space, or something...

GenYus234 08 October 2013 11:01 PM

Sure, there would be some loss of efficiency. But 4,000 turbines per square mile over 57.5 million square miles would be 280 trillion turbines. They could be 0.1% as efficient as the ones in my link and still provide over 3 times the energy that the earth uses.

snopes 08 October 2013 11:05 PM

Quote:

Now, I'm not saying that's going to happen, Mr. Chairman, but that is definitely something on the massive scale. I mean, it does make some sense.
"Just because this isn't happening, and won't happen, doesn't mean we shouldn't be outraged about it."

Troberg 09 October 2013 07:27 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ganzfeld (Post 1774086)
Citation needed.

Just a rough guesstimate.

The thing is, wind turbines won't stop the wind significantly, simply because they are so darn ineffective. They just remove very little momentum from the moving air.

I saw a calculation done a decade or so ago, which showed that if Sweden were to replace our nuclear reactors with wind turbine, we would need to cover the entire Skåne, Blekinge, Halland and Småland (ie, everyting below lake Vättern) with turbines. Yet, nuclear power is less than half our power production, we have roughly as much hydroelectric power, and some small amount of fossil fuels on top of that.

Despite that, we have some uneducated weed hippies who believe Sweden should build wind turbines...

Wind energy might make you feel good and environmentally friendly and all that, but it's useless if you want to make any significant impact.

Mr. Billion 30 August 2014 06:19 AM

This keeps coming up in other places, so I looked it up and was led back to the Snopes message board.

Gutter Monkey's Washington Monthly article doesn't have the full quote and its link to the Congressional record is dead, so here's an archive.org record of Congress's transcript:

https://web.archive.org/web/20101212...0090226_ee.pdf

I had never seen the full quote before now:

Quote:

[Page 90, line 1684] Mr. {Barton.} Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Before I ask my
questions, I am going to read a paragraph from Dr. Apt's
statement or paper that he wrote because we are here debating
a renewable energy standard because we think that there is a
theory that manmade emissions, primarily from fossil fuels
like coal, which reduce amounts of CO2, are causing climate
change, i.e., the temperature to rise, and one of the
solutions being proposed is an RES that is going to rely
fairly heavily on wind power, which obviously doesn't create
CO2. I am going to read a paragraph which is if true very
ironic, and this is from Dr. Apt's paper and I quote: ``Wind
energy is a finite resource. At large scale, slowing down
the wind by using its energy to turn turbines has
environmental consequences. A group of researchers at
Princeton University,'' which is in New Jersey,
parenthetically ``found that wind farms may change the mixing
of air near the surface, drying the soil near the site. At
planetary scales, David Keith, who was then at Carnegie
Mellon, and coworkers found that if wind supplied 10 percent
of expected global electricity demand in 2100, which is a number
of years off, the resulting change in the earth's
atmospheric energy might cause some regions of the world to
experience temperature change of approximately 1 degree
Centigrade,'' which I think is about 1-1/2 degrees or 1.6
degrees Fahrenheit. Now, wind is God's way of balancing
heat. Wind is the way you shift heat from areas where it is
hotter to areas where it is cooler. That is what wind is.
Wouldn't it be ironic if in the interest of global warming we
mandated massive switches to energy, which is a finite
resource, which slows the winds down, which causes the
temperature to go up? Now, I am not saying that is going to
happen, Mr. Chairman, but that is definitely something on the
massive scale--I mean, it does make some sense. You stop
something. You can't transfer that heat and the heat goes
up. It is just something to think about.
He's quoting Jay Apt, a business school guy at Carnegie Mellon who's quoting David W. Keith, a Harvard environmental engineer. As best as I can tell, he's quoting this 2004 paper which says:

Quote:

We find that very large amounts of wind power can produce nonnegligible climatic change at continental scales. Although large-scale effects are observed, wind power has a negligible effect on global-mean surface temperature, and it would deliver enormous global benefits by reducing emissions of CO2 and air pollutants.
Keith also says that this is a limited study and more research is needed. I wonder what research has been done between then and now on this subject.

Keith's paper ended by saying that the hypothetical effects might be avoided:

Quote:

Last, it may be comparatively easy to reduce the climatic impacts of wind turbines. Preliminary analysis suggests that turbine designs could be modified to increase the atmospheric efficiency (C P/C D) by several tens of percent and reduce the generation of turbulence by several fold, both of which could be done economically. Additional mitigation of impact might be achieved by siting wind farms such that their effects partially cancel and by tailoring the interaction of turbines with the local topography to minimize the added drag.

ganzfeld 30 August 2014 06:54 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Troberg (Post 1774404)
I saw a calculation done a decade or so ago, which showed that if Sweden were to replace our nuclear reactors with wind turbine, we would need to cover the entire Skåne, Blekinge, Halland and Småland (ie, everyting below lake Vättern) with turbines.

Where is that cite, then?

By my own rough estimate: If one turbine can produce 3.3 million kwh a year, the total needed would only be less than 4.5 million turbines, which is less than 14 windmills per square kilometer of land. So it wouldn't be anywhere near "20 km thick" whatever that means.

Cyrano 26 September 2014 10:11 AM

I'm always amused by these US politicians who seem to think that adding "God" to any ridiculous statement will give it a coat of legitimity.

Crius of CoH 26 September 2014 12:07 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Cyrano (Post 1843611)
I'm always amused by these US politicians who seem to think that adding "God" to any ridiculous statement will give it a coat of legitimity.

Sadly, they know their constituents well. :(

FullMetal 15 October 2014 08:17 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Skeptic (Post 1774077)
Actually, it's the other way around. Hot air rises, cooler air takes its place.

That's part of the equation yes, but dense air (usually cool air/high pressure air) moves to less dense air (usually hot air/low pressure air), which along with convection currents (hot air rising), and the rotation of the earth, the impact of the jet stream, and several other effects (it's been about 20 years since I took EAS 102 in University which discussed wind on a general scale) all help to produce wind, add geography to the mix and you get the crazy wind currents that we do get.

The mountains and vertically large cities (like New York) do more to affect wind currents than wind power farms ever would.


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