Should We Shush Wind Turbines?

Joanna Schroeder

Scientists in Australia are studying where wind turbine noise comes from and how it might be reduced. Not a new concern, researchers from the University of Adelaide in the Flow and Noise Group at the School of Mechanical Engineering are building a scale-model turbine in a wind tunnel. They are also building an acoustic test room around the turbine.

In a statement, Associate Professor Con Doolan said he believes this will be the most sophisticated wind turbine noise experiment in the world. The team will recreate the environment of a wind farm in the lab, including all the various noises you hear and their sources. From there, the team will use advanced measuring techniques to measure the aerodynamics and microphone arrays for the acoustics. This will help determine which noises are the strongest and their sources. Understanding this will also help the industry learn how to control or eliminate the noises.

The goal of the project is to be able to advise wind turbine manufactures and wind farm developers on design strategies. In addition, Doolan believes they can provide recommendations to governments about wind farm regulation and policy.

Wind power has been criticized for alleged noise impacts on health known as “wind turbine syndrome”. Although largely discounted by several research studies, there is still attention to the issue: Oregon compiled a report on possible health issues of wind turbines as has Massachusetts.  The Oregon report concluded that “sound from wind energy facilities in Oregon could potentially impact people’s health and well-being” when it exceeds state standards.

I recently visited a wind farm in Joice, Iowa and while there, on a very windy day, I filmed a wind turbine in action. I’ll let you be the judge  – should we shush wind turbines?

Alternative energy, Electricity, Energy, Renewable Energy, Wind