The global yearly production of electrical energy by wind turbines showing an exponential development over the last two decades with a doubling time of three years
Figure 1. The global yearly production of electrical energy by wind turbines showing an exponential development over the last two decades with a doubling time of three years. Source: US Energy Information Administration.
One purpose of wind turbines is to provide pollution-free electric power at a reasonable price in an environmentally sound way. In this focus issue the latest research on the environmental impact of wind farms is presented. Offshore wind farms affect the marine fauna in both positive and negative ways. For example, some farms are safe havens for porpoises while other farms show fewer harbor porpoises even after ten years. Atmospheric computer experiments are carried out to investigate the possible impact and resource of future massive installations of wind turbines. The following questions are treated. What is the global capacity for energy production by the wind? Will the added turbulence and reduced wind speeds generated by massive wind farms cool or heat the surface? Can wind farms affect precipitation? It is also shown through life-cycle analysis how wind energy can reduce the atmospheric emission of eight air pollutants. Finally, noise generation and its impact on humans are studied.