Are the wind turbines powering the air conditioners?

The Heat Wave Sent U.S. Power Demand Surging to Highest in Years

The heat wave that has roasted the U.S. East Coast may be slowing down U.S. stock trading and foiling July 4 road trips. But it’s the best friend of power market bulls.

Electricity demand across the eastern power market run by PJM Interconnection LLC reached 144,557 megawatts Tuesday afternoon -- the highest since Aug. 12, 2016 -- as people blasted their air conditioners and fans to keep cool. In New York, which is suffering through a fourth consecutive day of temperatures above 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius), power use surged to the highest levels since 2013.

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Comment by Penny Gray on July 8, 2018 at 7:39pm

Thank you, Frank.  Heat plumes and jet streams, something else to ponder. What goes around, comes around.  And apparently the urban areas generating the heat plumes are losing their trees and not replacing them.  I once read that each human requires two hundred trees to provide them with clean air, water and oxygen, yet we still wage war on our forests and clearcut mountain tops to erect giant steel turbines so we can call ourselves "green".

Comment by Long Islander on July 8, 2018 at 11:07am

When trees are cleared to accommodate wind turbines and their requisite new transmission corridors, the wind industry likes to point to CO2 reductions due to the wind turbines, however false. Among their many lies and omissions is that they overlook the role which trees play in not only CO2 sequestration but also evaporative cooling. The shade made by a tree is cool, but the tree itself does not heat up from the sunlight it has blocked – this is due to evaporation.

The wind pushers and their sock puppets in the so called environmental groups choose to ignore all the facts.

Comment by Frank J. Heller, MPA on July 8, 2018 at 10:56am

Cont.  the effect is most noticeable in the winter; but what about a hot summer? Is this effect making summers the 'hottest on record'?  

The hotter it gets the more air conditioning is needed---see analysis of sales of a.c.; and of course the more power required to run them. 

**technical note. It is possible to retrofit air conditioner filters to remove CO2. We'll see how anxious Efficiency Maine is at spending its surplus on a model project to do this in Maine.


Comment by Frank J. Heller, MPA on July 8, 2018 at 10:51am

Penny, when I researched out the impact of Sen. Muskie's pioneering air pollution bill in the late sixties for NLC/USCM, I became informed about the urban heat plume. This is generated by the temp. differential between say downtown NYC and the suburbs, or D.C. and Arlington. The difference is about 10 degrees, creating this upward and outward movement of hot air. It brings particulates out of the city and into the suburbs, so you get higher readings of specific ones and particulate fall out in the 'burbs.

The more heat expelled, the bigger the plume; and greater differential between core city and suburbs.

I'm sure somewhere, someone is measuring this differential and the capacity of air conditioners to remove heat and add it to the plume.  The same person/group may also be measuring the amount of electricity it takes to condition the air in a city; and perhaps also in the ever expanding suburbs. The question of whether the increased heat expelled in expanding urban areas affects climate has two answers....NO from a 2013 study published in NATURE; and MAYBE in reviews of this study:

"In a new study that shows the extent to which human activities are influencing the atmosphere, scientists have concluded that the heat generated by everyday activities in metropolitan areas alters the character of the jet stream and other major atmospheric systems. This affects temperatures across thousands of miles, significantly warming some areas and cooling others, according to the study this week in Nature Climate Change.

The extra “waste heat” generated from buildings, cars, and other sources in major Northern Hemisphere urban areas causes winter warming across large areas of northern North America and northern Asia. Temperatures in some remote areas increase by as much as 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit), according to the research by scientists at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography; University of California, San Diego; Florida State University; and the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

At the same time, the changes to atmospheric circulation caused by the waste heat cool areas of Europe by as much as 1 degree C (1.8 degrees F), with much of the temperature decrease occurring in the fall.

The net effect on global mean temperatures is nearly negligible—an average increase worldwide of just 0.01 degrees C (about 0.02 degrees F). This is because the total human-produced waste heat is only about 0.3 percent of the heat transported across higher latitudes by atmospheric and oceanic circulations.

However, the noticeable impact on regional temperatures may explain why some regions are experiencing more winter warming than projected by climate computer models, the researchers conclude. They suggest that models be adjusted to take the influence of waste heat into account.

The burning of fossil fuel not only emits greenhouse gases but also directly affects temperatures because of heat that escapes from sources like buildings and cars,” says NCAR scientist Aixue Hu, a co-author of the study. “Although much of this waste heat is concentrated in large cities, it can change atmospheric patterns in a way that raises or lowers temperatures across considerable distances.”


The researchers stressed that the effect of waste heat is distinct from the so-called urban heat island effect. Such islands are mainly a function of the heat collected and re-radiated by pavement, buildings, and other urban features, whereas the new study examines the heat produced directly through transportation, heating and cooling units, and other activities.

The study, “Energy consumption and the unexplained winter warming over northern Asia and North America,” appeared online yesterday. It was funded by the National Science Foundation, NCAR’s sponsor, as well as the Department of Energy and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Hu, along with lead author Guang Zhang of Scripps and Ming Cai of Florida State University, analyzed the energy consumption—from heating buildings to powering vehicles—that generates waste heat release. The world’s total energy consumption in 2006 was equivalent to a constant-use rate of 16 terawatts (1 terawatt, or TW, equals 1 trillion watts). Of that, an average rate of 6.7 TW was consumed in 86 metropolitan areas in the Northern Hemisphere.

Using a computer model of the atmosphere, the authors found that the influence of this waste heat can widen the jet stream.

“What we found is that energy use from multiple urban areas collectively can warm the atmosphere remotely, thousands of miles away from the energy consumption regions,” Zhang says. “This is accomplished through atmospheric circulation change.”

The release of waste heat is different from energy that is naturally distributed in the atmosphere, the researchers noted. The largest source of heat, solar energy, warms Earth’s surface and atmospheric circulations redistribute that energy from one region to another. Human energy consumption distributes energy that had lain dormant and sequestered for millions of years, mostly in the form of oil or coal.

Though the amount of human-generated energy is a small portion of that transported by nature, it is highly concentrated in urban areas. In the Northern Hemisphere, many of those urban areas lie directly under major atmospheric troughs and jet streams.

“The world’s most populated and energy-intensive metropolitan areas are along the east and west coasts of the North American and Eurasian continents, underneath the most prominent atmospheric circulation troughs and ridges,” Cai says. “The release of this concentrated waste energy causes the noticeable interruption to the normal atmospheric circulation systems above, leading to remote surface temperature changes far away from the regions where waste heat is generated.”

About the article

Title: Energy consumption and the unexplained winter warming over northern Asia and North America

Authors: Ghang J. Zhang, Ming Cai, and Aixue Hu

Publication: Nature Climate Change, January 27, 2013


*Media & nonprofit use of images: Except where otherwise indicated, media and nonprofit use permitted with credit as indicated above and compliance with UCAR's terms of use. Find more images in the NCAR|UCAR Multimedia & Image Gallery.

The University Corporation for Atmospheric Research manages the National Center for Atmospheric Research under sponsorship by the National Science Foundation. Any opinions, findings and conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

Comment by Willem Post on July 8, 2018 at 2:42am

Long Islander,

Here is my article on minimal wind and solar for six consecutive days during summer.

Comment by Penny Gray on July 7, 2018 at 7:46am

The heat island effect of big cities can only be exasperated by the millions of industrial sized air conditioning units pumping hot air out into their surrounds, perhaps helping to create the "Hottest Day on Record"?  

Comment by Frank J. Heller, MPA on July 5, 2018 at 9:16am

The sale and extent of installation of air conditioners has exploded over the past 20 years. Media focus on the power demands, but the New England Grid managers seem to have anticipated hot weather demands rather well, especially with the deployment of local gas fired power plants.

What people are ignoring is all the hot air expelled from these a.c. units in cars, trucks, homes and offices. How does it affect warming models?  Maybe no one wants to know and cling to outdated carbon emissions models as the source of warming---which appears to have plateaued?

I've researched out using a.c. filters which remove CO2 from the air and they exist in Japan. Not sure you can retrofit old a.c. units, because the current filters have a liquid in them; nor do I want to trigger any more govt. regulation; but the technology may be ready for deployment.

Comment by Lenny Murphy on July 5, 2018 at 9:03am

The need for real power, 24 hours a day, is increased as more commercial wind, and solar, power plants come on line! When the wind is not blowing the commercial wind power generators, as we know, need electric power to keep the oversize equipment operational, which of course adds more demand, more capability, from the more stable sources does it not? At some point they will have to decide who's power to turn off to keep the big power needs going too the commercial wind powered generators! They cost more to the Earth then they are saving, with some of our leaders helping to promote taxation without representation! Truly yours, Lenny Murphy.

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Maine as Third World Country:

CMP Transmission Rate Skyrockets 19.6% Due to Wind Power


Click here to read how the Maine ratepayer has been sold down the river by the Angus King cabal.

Maine Center For Public Interest Reporting – Three Part Series: A CRITICAL LOOK AT MAINE’S WIND ACT (excerpts) From Part 1 – On Maine’s Wind Law “Once the committee passed the wind energy bill on to the full House and Senate, lawmakers there didn’t even debate it. They passed it unanimously and with no discussion. House Majority Leader Hannah Pingree, a Democrat from North Haven, says legislators probably didn’t know how many turbines would be constructed in Maine if the law’s goals were met." . – Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting, August 2010 Part 2 – On Wind and Oil Yet using wind energy doesn’t lower dependence on imported foreign oil. That’s because the majority of imported oil in Maine is used for heating and transportation. And switching our dependence from foreign oil to Maine-produced electricity isn’t likely to happen very soon, says Bartlett. “Right now, people can’t switch to electric cars and heating – if they did, we’d be in trouble.” So was one of the fundamental premises of the task force false, or at least misleading?" Part 3 – On Wind-Required New Transmission Lines Finally, the building of enormous, high-voltage transmission lines that the regional electricity system operator says are required to move substantial amounts of wind power to markets south of Maine was never even discussed by the task force – an omission that Mills said will come to haunt the state.“If you try to put 2,500 or 3,000 megawatts in northern or eastern Maine – oh, my god, try to build the transmission!” said Mills. “It’s not just the towers, it’s the lines – that’s when I begin to think that the goal is a little farfetched.”

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