The influence of large-scale wind power on global climate

David W. Keith, Joseph F. DeCarolis, David C. Denkenberger, Donald H. Lenschow, Sergey L. Malyshev, Stephen Wilson Pacala, Philip J. Rasch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

263 Scopus citations


Large-scale use of wind power can alter local and global climate by extracting kinetic energy and altering turbulent transport in the atmospheric boundary layer. We report climate-model simulations that address the possible climatic impacts of wind power at regional to global scales by using two general circulation models and several parameterizations of the interaction of wind turbines with the boundary layer. 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. Our results may enable a comparison between the climate impacts due to wind power and the reduction in climatic impacts achieved by the substitution of wind for fossil fuels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)16115-16120
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number46
StatePublished - Nov 16 2004

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


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