Category Archives: wind turbines

Hammered by a wind turbine

I got surprised last week (April 17-19, 2011) on a wind turbine noise survey with my long-time colleague Steve Ambrose, also a Member of INCE. We experienced all the symptoms described by folks unfortunate enough to live nearby where an industrial wind turbine facility has been built. Nausea, loss of appetite, vertigo, dizziness, inability to concentrate, an overwhelming desire to get outside, and anxiety.

The distance was approximately 1700 feet from one 1.65MW industrial wind turbine.

We obtained relief, repeatedly, by going several miles away.

Vertigo came back much stronger for me today, a week later, simply while reviewing the precision audio recordings from the trip on small laptop speakers. Moderate nausea coming and going, and ears ringing and feeling full. That may mean that I have been “sensitized” and I’m now more susceptible to the symptoms.

If you’ve ever been seasick, or travel-sick on planes, you might understand the feeling.

http://www.windturbinesyndrome.com/news/2011/two-acousticians-succumb-to-wind-turbine-syndrome-maine/

Et, en Francais- terrecitoyenne.qc.ca.

Rollins Wind: Can There Be High Annoyance?

Recently a chart was created for predicting the percent of the community highly annoyed by wind turbine noise. Previous research showed that wind turbine noise is much more annoying than transportation noise at much lower sound levels [1].

The equation underlying the annoyance siting chart can be used to predict the percent of the community highly annoyed versus distance, based on the sound levels measured or predicted for an industrial wind turbine facility.

In the chart below, the predicted sound levels versus distance were charted for the proposed Rollins Wind facility, levels obtained from the applicant’s publicly available application document. Also charted were the measured highest hourly average sound levels at Mars Hill, obtained from the project files available at the Maine DEP.

The chart below illustrates the predicted percent of the community highly annoyed for the proposed Rollins Wind Facility, computed using the peer-reviewed equation developed by Pedersen and Waye by distance from the nearest turbine.

The chart illustrates what common sense suggests and what real world experience has already shown at Mars Hill, Freedom, and Vinalhaven. The percentage of the community that is highly annoyed by wind turbine noise levels is predicted to be high near the turbines and lessens with distance. Up to a two-mile setback appears necessary to minimize community disruption.

Has the potential for high annoyance due to industrial wind turbine noise been discussed in the Rollins Wind application process?

This high annoyance prediction method is based on 150kw-600kw wind turbines (smaller than those being installed in Maine) and does not factor in detailed effects of Maine topography. Taller turbines with longer blades may exhibit deeper amplitude modulation than those studied by Pedersen and Waye. In hill-valley or mountainous areas, the sound level versus distance may be channeled and elevated relative to the results from computer modelling. Higher sound levels and high annoyance could be sustained at farther distances than expected.

“Annoyance with wind turbine noise was associated with psychological distress, stress, difficulties to fall asleep and sleep interruption.”

1. Pedersen, E. and K. Persson Waye. 2004. Perception and annoyance due to wind turbine noise: A dose–response relationship, Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 116: 3460–3470.

Rollins Wind: Might The Model Be Low?

Sound level versus distance on semi-log paper has been for many years one of the best ways to review noise emissions and potential impacts from a power generation facility. Yesterday I took a look at the Rollins Wind Facility predictions at nearby residences and, levels measured near the Kibby facility this year as well as the existing Mars Hill operational data compiled for the Maine DEP. The resulting chart is shown below. It raised several somewhat technical points for me right away.

– I understand Rollins will use the same wind turbine as Mars Hill, the GE 1.5MW. Is it appropriate to compare the Oakfield prediction to actual noise emissions documented at Mars Hill? Or to Kibby’s 3MW Vestas, with their similar, blade-sweep aerodynamic noise production?

– Are the predicted noise levels at nearby residences in the ranges associated with sleep disturbance, as well as adverse health impacts especially for risk groups (children, elderly, those with pre-existing conditions or disease), according to peer-reviewed medical evidence compiled and published by the World Health Organization in their Night Noise Guideline (NNG) of October 2009?

– Is the existing Maine DEP night noise limit of 45 dBA adequate to protect the public health in the area?

– Does the data comparison to WHO health thresholds suggest that a setback distance of over two miles would be needed to minimize sleep disturbance and prevent adverse health impacts for risk groups; children, elderly, those with pre-existing conditions or disease?

Oakfield Wind: Might The Model Be Low?

Sound level versus distance on semi-log paper has been for many years one of the best ways to review noise emissions and potential impacts from a power generation facility. Recently a comparison was developed from the Oakfield Wind Facility predictions at nearby residences and the existing Mars Hill data compiled for the Maine DEP. The resulting chart is shown below. It raised several points right away.

– Both sites use the same wind turbine, the GE 1.5MW. Is it appropriate to compare the Oakfield prediction to actual noise emissions documented at Mars Hill?

– Are the predicted noise levels at nearby residences in the ranges associated with sleep disturbance as well as adverse health impacts for risk groups (children, elderly, those with pre-existing conditions or disease), according to peer-reviewed medical evidence compiled and published by the World Health Organization in their Night Noise Guideline (NNG) of October 2009?

– Is the existing Maine DEP night noise limit of 45 dBA adequate to protect the public health in the area?

– Does the data comparison to WHO health thresholds suggest that a setback distance of over two miles would be needed to minimize sleep disturbance and prevent adverse health impacts for risk groups?

Wind Turbines: No Bang For The Buck?

My rule of thumb is 60 acres per megawatt for wind farms on land.

— Tom Gray, Director of Communications and Outreach, American Wind Energy Assocation

There have been serious questions raised in Maine as to the costs and revenues of wind turbine facilities large and small. Actual financial performance apparently has not been revealed to any substantive extent. Not only is this rather baffling- wouldn’t the wind producers want people to know how well they are performing- but also, there would seem to be some requirement at least in the public arena for a degree of transparency in these matters. After all, a large percentage of the investment capital is coming from the taxpayers.

Perhaps the financial performance figures will remain cloistered until such time as public outcry forces these data into the open. However, it is simple now to evaluate wind turbine performance in terms of power rating versus land use, specifically, by evaluating output to land area affected by noise pollution for various power generation systems.

From a noise pollution viewpoint, an ideal power generation system is efficient, producing very little noise and vibration as waste by-products; or, it is a good neighbor, being quiet by design or incorporating noise controls to limit off-site noise pollution. For the same output, a wasteful design requires more land area or distance to reach a low enough noise level to be a good neighbor.

In the chart below, nuclear, fossil (coal, oil, natural gas) and wind turbines technologies are compared. It should be evident that the nuclear designs show by far the highest efficiencies, with the shortest distances and the largest outputs. Wind turbines on the other hand, appear to be by far the most inefficient from a noise pollution and land use standpoint, requiring substantial distances with meager power output compared to their nuclear and fossil counterparts.

Note: This chart was produced by scaling sound level versus distance for each power plant surveyed. No adjustments were made for plant capacity factors; with wind far lower than nuclear or fossil, we would expect increased vertical spread between wind and other technologies. Neither was adjustment made for tonal or short duration repetitive sound (SDRS) components as sound character data were not available for the nuclear and fossil units, only sound level in dBA at 1000 feet. Since nuclear and fossil plants tend to produce steady state noise, and wind turbines surveyed in Maine display tonal and SDRS components, one could expect that the nuclear and fossil plants require less distance to be good neighbors than shown on this chart. Thus both capacity factor and sound character would serve to increase the disparity in land use efficiency between wind and other plant designs.

Ocean Noise Pollution Can Lead Fish To Their Death

A recent compelling scientific study of the effects of noise pollution in the ocean yields yet another cautionary tale about further proliferation of wind turbine facilities in the world’s oceans. As outlined at Science Daily, the growing amount of human noise pollution in the ocean could lead fish away from good habitat and off to their death, according to new research from a UK-led team working on the Great Barrier Reef.

In earlier research, Dr Steve Simpson, Senior Researcher in the University of Bristol’s School of Biological Sciences discovered that baby reef fish use sounds made by fish, shrimps and sea urchins as a cue to find coral reefs. With human noise pollution from ships, wind farms and oil prospecting on the increase, he is now concerned that this crucial behaviour is coming under threat.

Fishing stocks in the Gulf of Maine have been devastated in the last five decades, and restoration will take time. Despite the apparent allure of distant offshore locations for reducing (with distance) the serious noise pollution large industrial wind turbines produce on land in Maine, credible studies such as this one point out how much we haven’t known about the effects of wind turbines in the nearby ocean.

It seems prudent to tread very carefully indeed in the Gulf of Maine, lest we lose what little we have left of our precious fishing stocks and fishing economy.