Wind and solar farms are known to have local effects on heat, humidity and other factors that may be beneficial — or detrimental — to the regions in which they are situated. A new climate-modelling study finds that a massive wind and solar installation in the Sahara Desert and neighbouring Sahel would increase local temperature, precipitation and vegetation. Overall, the researchers report, the effects would likely benefit the region.
The study, reported in the journal Science, is among the first to model the climate effects of wind and solar installations while taking into account how vegetation responds to changes in heat and precipitation, said lead author Yan Li, a postdoctoral researcher in natural resources and environmental sciences at the University of Illinois.
“Previous modelling studies have shown that large-scale wind and solar farms can produce significant climate change at continental
scales,” Li said. “But the lack of vegetation feedbacks could make the modelled climate impacts very different from their actual behaviour.
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