A pragmatic view of a wind turbine noise standard


English: A size comparison of wind turbines

English: A size comparison of wind turbines (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

~1kV adjustable voltage source with sub-ppm st...

~1kV adjustable voltage source with sub-ppm stability (Photo credit: fatllama)

wind turbines

wind turbines (Photo credit: fsse8info)

A pragmatic view of a wind turbine noise standard
Philip J Dickinson
College of Sciences, Massey University Wellington, New Zealand
key words: wind-turbine-noise, wind-turbine-standards

http://www.planning.nsw.gov.au/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=ZR_WpK6cR3c%3D&tabid=205&mid=1081&language=en-US

1 WIND TURBINES – THE IDEAL SOLUTION
Most of us take too many things for granted. We assume that if something appears in a national or international standard it must be right, and if we have been taught to do something in a particular way, then that is the right way to do it. Rarely do we question, and then often only if we don’t like what some person has said or suggested, and would like to retaliate. Even if we worry about something not being quite right, we often are reluctant to do anything about it for fear of ridicule – and let’s face it, in our small world, some people are very good at ridiculing others, when they themselves have little to contribute but a client to satisfy.
In the developed world, sustainable management of the envi-ronment usually takes the form of trying to economize in the use of fossil fuel, and to find other ways of generating en-ergy. Bio-fuel, hydropower plants and wind turbine genera-tors are near the top in the minds of many governments. At first sight wind farms would seem to be an ideal solution to the power crisis. They stand there in the countryside quietly pumping energy into the electricity grid whenever the wind blows and logically should cause problems to no-one. The turbines need wind to turn so any sounds made will be rap-idly dispersed and the sound of the wind itself will mask any sound from the turbines. But is this really true? Sounds can carry long distances downwind. Numerous ailments have been reported and blamed on the lower frequencies in the sound from wind farms [Pierpont 2009, Harry 2007, Frey and Hadden 2007], sounds which it would seem can easily pene-trate a building, keeping awake those trying to sleep inside. At a few kilometres distance, people in the Manawatu district of New Zealand describe the noise as sounding like a heavy truck climbing an endless hill in the distance, or a train that never arrives, and it would appear there is nothing the local people can do to get relief. Whatever anyone may think, wind turbines do produce some noise, and there are claims of this noise at times causing extreme annoyance [Pedersen and Persson-Waye 2002] and possible adverse health effects.
This initially was intended as a discussion paper on the sound propagated from wind turbines and what seems to be ac-cepted practice in national and international standards. We tend to forget that someone has to bear the cost of such stan-dards, and that almost always this will be someone with a vested interest in the subject – someone or some organisation that can afford the cost and to whom the way the standard is written has a direct bearing on what they want it to achieve for them. Those that review the standard, in its public com-ment stage, often do not see the hidden implications – particu-larly if mathematics is involved in any way. Few people are willing to stand up with an opposing method for fear of pub-lic ridicule for daring to suggest that international experts may have it wrong. This author does not purport to be an expert in wind power generation and is neither for nor against the establishment of wind farms. He would just like to get to the truth of the matter, for sustainable management of the environment is not without human cost. In this world nothing is free. Everything has a cost, and some of the costs may be in diminished human health. Clearly these costs should be as low as humanly possible.
Numerous large installations are on the drawing board in New Zealand and a number have already received resource consent to go ahead. How the local people – those within say a few kilometres of the installation – will benefit is never made clear, and any suggestion of adverse health effects is quickly quashed as being entirely without substance and sci-entific fact. There are indications, however, that something may be wrong and public health at risk of being compro-mised. A major, perhaps the major responsibility of local government is to protect the health and welfare of its resi-dents and this should take priority over other things such as monetary gain. Regrettably from experience the health of the local people often takes a lower order of priority

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One Response to A pragmatic view of a wind turbine noise standard

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