Wind turbines may improve growing conditions, study finds

An Iowa State University study of a 200-turbine wind farm between Radcliffe and Colo found that turbulence from the structures have a positive effect on growing conditions. (jonbgem/flickr)
Jenna Ladd | December 22, 2016

Recent research from Iowa State University found that wind turbines may improve growing conditions for Iowa crops.

Gene Takle, a climate scientist at the university, and his team measured several factors including temperature, humidity, precipitation, as well as wind speed and direction on a 200 wind turbine farm in central Iowa. The researchers collected data from 2010 through 2013 using research towers.

Overall, the study shows that wind turbines have a positive impact on several factors that affect growing conditions. Turbulence generated by the turbines prevents the formation of dew and dries the crops, which can keep fungi from growing, researchers say. Wind turbines also alter the temperature around them. The turbulence increases nighttime temperatures by a half-degree to a full degree and cools daytime temperatures by a half-degree. Data shows that the wind produced by the turbines rustle up plants situated above cropland as well, allowing the sun to shine through.

Takle said, “That’s beneficial. It allows light to move deeper into the canopy.”

Iowa sources nearly 36 percent of its total energy from wind turbines, more than any other state. In all, energy companies have invested $12 billion in wind production in the Hawkeye state, and landowners earn $20 million each year in lease payments for wind farms.

The study is a part of a $20 million, five year grant from the National Science Foundation. Moving forward, Takle said that he is interested in researching the effects wind turbines might have on regional weather patterns.

He said, “If you had warm, humid air rising and cooling over a wind farm, it could lead to more cloud formations, possibly even enhance or influence … rainfall patterns.”

Takle added, “We’ve been measuring changes on the wind farm, but this would measure effects outside the wind farm.”

Small wind turbine business continues to expand

Photo by Elise Bauer, Flickr.

The large wind farms dotting Iowa’s landscape are no longer creating the most buzz in the green business world.  They’re losing that title to stand alone turbines atop homes and businesses.

Read more from the New York Times below: Continue reading

Worldwide demand for small wind turbines this year

Photo by Mike Gifford, Flickr

Large wind farm producers have no had the best time in 2011, while the small wind turbine manufacturing industry continues to grow.

Radio Iowa reports:

Industry experts say the demand for larger-scale wind farms leveled off in the last year while the demand for the smaller turbines that can power homes, schools or farms enjoyed growth. A new brief released by the American Wind Energy Association at its meeting in Des Moines says the generating capacity of the small wind systems across the nation grew 26% last year. Continue reading

Johnson County wind farm ordinance approved

Photo by Brooke Raymond, Flickr

The Johnson County Board of Supervisors gave their approval for a wind farm ordinance last week that makes it easier to build turbines on agricultural land.

Read more from the Iowa City Press-Citizen here:

Johnson County is a step closer to having its own wind farms after the Johnson County Board of Supervisors approved a new ordinance governing their use Thursday. Continue reading