SCIENTISTS claim the presence of wind farms is unlikely to affect the ability of peatland to capture carbon.
Previous studies have established that clusters of turbines create localised microclimates, with slightly different temperatures and levels of humidity caused by the action of the turbine blades. The new study, published in the journal Environmental Research Letters, is the first to measure the effect on peatland, where the majority of Scottish wind farms are located.
Researchers from the University of Glasgow, the National Centre for Atmospheric Science, Lancaster University and Tte Centre for Ecology and Hydrology placed a grid of 100 temperature and humidity sensors around wind turbines at ScottishPower Renewables’ Black Law wind farm in North Lanarkshire.
They found that, when the turbines were operational at night, they raised the air temperature by nearly 0.2°C and fractionally increased the absolute humidity. During the period when the turbines were inactive, the climate effects were absent.
Susan Waldron, Professor of Biogeochemistry at the University of Glasgow’s School of Geographical and Earth Sciences, said: “It’s important to understand the effects of wind farms as they are projected to output seven percent of global energy production by 2035, with more than three-quarters of wind farm coverage on land. These effects are likely to be very small compared to the much larger effect that the changing of the seasons have on the temperature of peatlands.”