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Nat Commun. 2014;5:3196. doi: 10.1038/ncomms4196.

Regional climate model simulations indicate limited climatic impacts by operational and planned European wind farms.

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Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l'Environnement, IPSL, laboratoire CEA-CNRS-UVSQ Orme des Merisiers, 91191 Gif sur Yvette Cedex, France.
I-Tésé, Institut de Technico-Economie des Systèmes Energétiques CEA/DEN/DANS Centre de Saclay Batiment 125 F-91191 Gif sur Yvette Cedex, France.
Institut National de l'Environnement industriel et de RISques, Parc Technologique Alata, BP2, Verneuil-en-Halatte 60550, France.
ENEA Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development; UTMEA-CLIM Energy Environment Modeling Unit-Climate & Impact Modeling Laboratory, via Anguillarese 301, I-00123 Roma, Italy.


The rapid development of wind energy has raised concerns about environmental impacts. Temperature changes are found in the vicinity of wind farms and previous simulations have suggested that large-scale wind farms could alter regional climate. However, assessments of the effects of realistic wind power development scenarios at the scale of a continent are missing. Here we simulate the impacts of current and near-future wind energy production according to European Union energy and climate policies. We use a regional climate model describing the interactions between turbines and the atmosphere, and find limited impacts. A statistically significant signal is only found in winter, with changes within ±0.3 °C and within 0-5% for precipitation. It results from the combination of local wind farm effects and changes due to a weak, but robust, anticyclonic-induced circulation over Europe. However, the impacts remain much weaker than the natural climate interannual variability and changes expected from greenhouse gas emissions.


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