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The climate changers: How wind turbines make their own clouds  

Credit:  By ANDREW LEVY FOR THE DAILY MAIL, 20 February 2010, dailymail.co.uk ~~

They are billed as vast sentinels that will protect our world from climate change.

But, at the same time, these wind turbines are creating a new little climate of their own. The 196ft structures whipped up the sea mist which blankets them in this photograph.

The phenomenon is caused by the spinning 130ft blades which churn up the warm air at sea level and mix it with cooler air above at Scroby Sands, near Great Yarmouth in Norfolk.

The turbine blades create clouds which hang over the offshore farm even though the coastline remains clear

The wind farm at Scroby Sands off East Anglia is shrouded in sea fog caused by its spinning blades

When this happens, the water begins condensing as droplets which become visible.

Retired garage owner Mike Page, 70, of Strumpshaw, Norfolk, who captured the scene from his Cessna 150 light aircraft, said: ‘The spinning blades whip moisture into the air like giant egg mixers.

A close up of one of the turbines shows a swirl of mist created around the blades as cooler air is mixed with warmer air. Albanpix/Mike Page

‘It definitely occurs several times a year, sometimes gathering upwind of the turbines and sometimes downwind depending on the conditions.

‘The strange thing is that you will see this mist around the turbines while it is a bright clear day on the beach just a couple of miles away.

‘It is a fascinating example of how wind farms create their own micro-climate. It is the same as any geographical feature affecting the weather.’

The windfarm which has 30 turbines has been generating up to 60 megawatts of power – enough for 30,000 homes – since it was built in 2004.

Emma Sharples, of the private weather forecasting service Weatherquest, said: ‘Any natural or manmade feature can create a micro-climate around itself.

‘You do need some sort of movement in the air for mist or fog to form and this is what appears to be happening here.

‘The warmer air from the sea containing moisture can create mist when it is mixed with the cooler, drier air above.

‘However, the wind speed has to be just right. If it’s a really windy day it is not going to happen because too much wind will disperse it.’

She said that the phenomenon was more likely to apply to sea-based wind farms because of the effects of moist air and the difference in temperature between the land and the air is much smaller.

And she said that the micro-climates surrounding the turbines would disperse when it was windy, making a ‘minimal’ impact on any nearby land.

Scroby Sands was commissioned in 2004. Its 30 turbines, which have three blades each, generate up to 60 megawatts of power, enough for 30,000 homes.

Each year the renewable energy source saves the emission of nearly 68,000 tons of carbon dioxide, 600 tons of sulphur dioxide, and 200 tons of nitrogen oxides.

The Government has pledged that 15 per cent of UK energy supplies will come from green sources such as wind farms by 2020, largely to meet EU emission rules.

Despite the benefits, critics argue the energy they produce is unreliable, they damage previously unspoilt views, and birds or bats are often killed by the blades.

Source:  By ANDREW LEVY FOR THE DAILY MAIL, 20 February 2010, dailymail.co.uk

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

The copyright of this article resides with the author or publisher indicated. As part of its noncommercial effort to present the environmental, social, scientific, and economic issues of large-scale wind power development to a global audience seeking such information, National Wind Watch endeavors to observe “fair use” as provided for in section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law and similar “fair dealing” provisions of the copyright laws of other nations. Send requests to excerpt, general inquiries, and comments via e-mail.

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