Renewable infrastructure projects have potential to alter local climate for the better, scientists suggest
by Josh Gabbatiss for The Independent
Installing massive fields of wind turbines or solar panels in the Sahara desert could turn parts of the arid landscape green, according to a new study.
Scientists have predicted that shifts in the local environment triggered by these structures could bring rain to the desert and improve conditions in some of the world’s most inhospitable regions.
It is generally agreed that universal renewable energy will be essential to curb carbon emissions from fossil fuels and avoid catastrophic climate change.
However, when deployed on the kind of massive scales required to power the world, these developments could have unintended consequences.
Scientists predict that when sufficiently large arrays of wind turbines and solar panels are installed, their presence could change the reflectivity of the land and movement of air currents.
Wind farms mix warmer air from above with cooler currents lower down, and solar panels prevent sunlight from being reflected back into the atmosphere.
These effects have the potential to change local climate, and as climate change is the very thing renewable energy is meant to avoid, there is a need to understand the implications of this phenomenon.