How much noise is produced by wind turbines?

May 2, 2016, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology
How much noise is produced by wind turbines?
Under the TremAc project, a single chain for modeling the vibrating parts of wind turbines and their surroundings is to be developed. Credit: WindForS

Wind energy is to have a major share in the future renewable energy mix. The Germany-wide TremAc project is aimed at improving the planning, development, and acceptance of wind power plants and at developing objective criteria for their emissions. For this purpose, experts will study the interaction of acoustic and seismic vibrations of wind power plants and plan to generate a model to compute both emissions. TremAc is funded with EUR 1.85 million by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy.

"We want to compute the complete chain of effects from the plant to the population," Theodoros Triantafyllidis, coordinator of the TremAc cooperation project and Head of the Institute of Soil Mechanics and Rock Mechanics of KIT, explains. Within the framework of the TremAc cooperation project, a single chain is to be developed for modeling all vibrating plant components and the surroundings, i.e. the rotating rotor blades, drive shaft, gondola suspension and tower structure, foundation, and the ground, various topographic terrains and airflows as well as adjacent residential buildings and workplaces.

The scientists plan to measure the vibrations propagating in the atmosphere as acoustic and in the ground as seismic waves both for a single wind turbine and in a wind park and to validate the computation models with these data. In parallel, the neighboring population will be interviewed using environmental medicine and psychological questionnaires. The people's subjective complaints will be related to objective measurements in buildings.

So far, the emission and perception of noise and vibrations has been studied separately in most cases. "This is far too limited in scope to understand why neighbors complain of inconveniences caused by wind even though the required limit values are observed and people should not hear anything physiologically," Triantafyllidis says. For this reason, the TremAc project will concentrate on studying interactions between airborne sound and structure-borne sound.

The coupled computation models to be developed under the project will help better prognosticate emissions of planned plants and realistically define and continuously review limit values as a function of the plant output, the distance to residential buildings, and topography. In addition, the engineers want to analyze the interactions of individual plant components and the causes of emissions as well as to develop technical solutions for minimizing structure-borne and airborne sound. Finally, assessment criteria are to be objectified by the cooperation of engineers and social scientists.

The TremAc (Objective Criteria for Vibration and Noise Emissions of Inland Wind Power Plants) cooperation project was initiated by the South-German WindForS research cluster. It is funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy with about EUR 1.85 million from 2016 to 2019. The partners are Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, the University of Stuttgart, Technische Universität München, the University of Bielefeld, the University of Halle-Wittenberg, and the company Mesh Engineering, Stuttgart. Manufacturers and operators of are to join the cooperation.

Explore further: Examining noise produced by wind power plants

More information: More about the TremAc project: www.windfors.de/english/index.html

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12 comments

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gkam
1.9 / 5 (9) May 02, 2016
The use of scrolled blades, like those in the Virginia class subs should spread out the thumps from the blades and the tower interactions into more of white noise.
ab3a
5 / 5 (2) May 02, 2016
Airliner wings often have winglets at the end to help reduce the vortexes generated by the wake, caused by the discontinuity of the end of the wing.

I wonder if such winglets at the end of the turbine blade might help reduce noise from a wind turbine?
gkam
1 / 5 (7) May 02, 2016
ab3a, I don't think so. But it might help by reducing the effect of vortices which may affect other nearby wind turbines.
antigoracle
1.8 / 5 (5) May 02, 2016
Airliner wings often have winglets at the end to help reduce the vortexes generated by the wake, caused by the discontinuity of the end of the wing.

I wonder if such winglets at the end of the turbine blade might help reduce noise from a wind turbine?

I just patented that.
Whydening Gyre
4.3 / 5 (6) May 02, 2016
The interaction of blade in front of tower could be source of low frequency (seismic) noise.
There's also the psychology of the whole experience. People like to complain about most anything...
Whydening Gyre
5 / 5 (5) May 02, 2016
The interaction of blade in front of tower could be source of low frequency (seismic) noise.
There's also the psychology of the whole experience. People like to complain about most anything...

ESPECIALLY if they think there could be a lawsuit involved...
Fargin' lawyers give vultures a bad name...
Whydening Gyre
4.3 / 5 (6) May 02, 2016
The use of scrolled blades, like those in the Virginia class subs should spread out the thumps from the blades and the tower interactions into more of white noise.

Actually, George - not bad...
gkam
1 / 5 (6) May 02, 2016
anti has just patented it, . .
ab3a
5 / 5 (4) May 02, 2016
Airliner wings often have winglets at the end to help reduce the vortexes generated by the wake, caused by the discontinuity of the end of the wing.

I wonder if such winglets at the end of the turbine blade might help reduce noise from a wind turbine?

I just patented that.


You're about two decades late. There were airplane propellers with bent winglets called Q-Tip propellers designed to reduce noise. They were never very popular because they looked silly, weighed more and all they did was to reduce a little bit of the noise on the ground. It's easier to just dial the propeller governor back 50 RPM.
Eikka
not rated yet May 03, 2016
There's also the psychology of the whole experience. People like to complain about most anything...


There's also atmospheric reflection, which comes and goes in spots, so it's nearly impossible to capture on an recorder.

Basically, you get a direct path of noise, and a reflection from the air layers above that interfere constructively and destructively to form patterns of noise on the ground that persist for some time and then vanish, and then return again some time later. People then remember the weird rumbling and swooshing noises and psychology takes over to say they happen more frequently than they actually do.

If you stick up a pole with a microphone in some location, it may catch few of those random events, while people moving around the countryside hear them everywhere, which gives the impression like living next to an airport: constant annoyance.
dmma
5 / 5 (1) May 04, 2016
The article does not explicitly mention either infrasound or low frequency noise (ILFN). That is the culprit in creating the greatest health problems for people who live nearby. If this study does NOT address ILFN with competency and objectivity, then it is worse than worthless; it would be industry advocacy in its worst form. See Infrasound-wind-turbines-4-August-2015.pdf at url docs.wind-watch.org for a fairly recent review of where actual science stands on wind turbines and ILFN.
gkam
1 / 5 (4) May 05, 2016
And we can hear the draft fans for coal plants for miles.

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