Wind Turbine Noise Pollution. Verdict? BULL

There’s been a lot of controversy about the noise caused by wind turbines.  There’s this whole thing about “subsonic” sound causing all manner of horrific malady…  and sidestepping the obvious contradiction of calling sound “subsonic”, that is, below sound, well, a friend of mine went off on it so bad I promised her I’d pay a visit to one of the big turbines around here on a good windy day, and hear the horrific, mind-numbing sound pollution the thing created.  Well, here it is, folks, the Hull MA turbine, 66kW, at 15-20 knots.  (For the record, the average estimated year-round wind speed for that spot at “hub height”, that is, where the hub of the turbine is located, is just around 11.5 knots.)

Here it is folks.

…I know.  Deafening.  And those BIRDS just wouldn’t shut up, so we could really hear what was going on.

Seriously, I found it to be actually quite soothing- waves on the beach, listening to a babbling brook, the wind through the rushes soothing.  I’ll admit, there was an almost indiscernable low register going on- once per revolution, for about a fraction of a second.  The wind was pretty stiff, too, by the way- uncomfortably strong at the beach, where, by the way, I could barely hear to speak to my wife.  Now when the hell are we doing something about THAT racket, I ask you!

Final verdict?  I call BULL.  I don’t know what the issue or the objective is, but it’s nothing but obstructionism pure and simple.

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15 responses to “Wind Turbine Noise Pollution. Verdict? BULL

  1. Nice Ted. You know what’s really quiet and nice to look at? A coal power plant…in someone else’s backyard.

    And don’t get me started on the birds.

    Number of birds killed by wind turbines per year: 100 thousand

    Number of birds killed by cats: 100 million

    • Cats probably do indeed kill more standard “passerine” type birds–backyard songbirds. Primarily because windmills are not typically located near the kinds of residential suburban areas songbirds prefer. Windmills ARE, however, know as killers of the larger “birds of prey”, the so-called raptor like birds that are (unlike the passerines) more likely to be on an endangered list.

      A standard housecat who tried to nip at an osprey or eagle would find its skull pierced and body half eaten before it could utter the first yowl… Context, please. For birds that are actually endangered, a take of “merely” 100,000 is quite a haul for the paltry input on the grid.

      Next, the comparison is daft in any event. Cats are not known for generating much power. Just angst.

      • Note: In the United States, an estimate by a U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) scientist in 2009 claimed that wind turbines kill 440,000 birds per year, with future mortality expected to increase significantly as wind power generation expands by 2030 to levels about 12 times higher than 2009 levels

  2. The topic of wind turbine pollution as you seem to be unaware of is very complex. The significant causes to the health problems that people are experiencing are not from the sound, as you assert but from electro magnetic radiation.

    The health problems are without a doubt more likely caused by EMF or EMR (electromagnetic radiation).

    Dr Maggda Havas (www.magdahavas.com) has done much research on this topic, as have countless others. She has demonstrateed through double blind studies (since early 2000’s) that EMF causes raised blood pressure, heart rate and elevated blood sugar readings (among other health issues). She has dubbed this Diabetes 3. I urge you to google and youtube content if not read it. (Magdas Havas also has a good YouTube channel.)

    These effects are immediate AND local, and switch on and off within seconds/minutes of the EM radiation exposure.

    This would explain why there would be no link to wind turbine pollution and local medication prescriptions for example, yet there are still real effects to the pollution (not noise, but electro magnetic) – when someone moves away from the radiation, the effects would subside and give less reason for a doctor measuring blood pressure or heart rate to prescibe drugs.

    Whats more, and significantly most important is that this radiation reinforces like waves. The electromagnetic fields will radiate out from each turbine and produce reinforced nodes or hotspots and weak spots (peaks and toughs, in wave terminology), much like sound waves behave.

    Therefore, the way sound changes by frequency and amplitude in a room, the field strenght will change by relatively small distances as there are arrays of the turbines all interacting creating complex EMR dispersions. Thus, someone 150m and 300m away may not be affected, but someone 200 and 400m away may be (by simple example).

    Seriously, the noise!! This is POWER generation and thus a power problem. How many people enjoy living under high-tension powerlines?

    The questions that should have been asked here are largely amiss.

    With all respect, blogging is dangerous when people don’t know what they are talking about.

    • … ah yes. I always love the ol’ “Well I lost that argument, so let’s change the subject” gambit.

      Also lovin’ the old EMF argument (heard it since the mid-’70s, thanks very much, and it’s as much bull now as it was then) from some asshat sitting in front of a keyboard with a power supply, hard drive and a frikkin monitor about 2 feet from his brain.

      …let’s not forget the whole tinfoil-hat rant that any power generation is bad. I’ll buy that from you when I get your messages by carrier pigeon. If you really believed that you’d be living in a cave. Oh yeah, but there’s Radon in caves.

      And, last but not least, there’s the “Let me use your blog to insult your intelligence” strategy. Always a charmer.

      Until you can show me that wind power is more hazardous than drilling and burning oil (real, actual hazards, if you doubt that I can suggest a road trip to the Big Easy) or mining and burning coal (ditto, a trip to a town in Virginia), then I’d suggest you sit down, shut up, or take your conspiracy theories and pseudo-science and post that crap to someone who buys into your half-baked notions of a solution.

      Oh, but that’s right. You didn’t offer a solution, did you?

  3. With more effective magnet technology and super lubricants- chances are withen the next two years they will produce even less dB’s ….. The bird thing is sad … the bear thing is also sad – I’d put my money on these animals learning to enjoy or fend for themselves, go else were etc. – Wind is great resource when alone or combined with other renewable’s it absolutely is net-positive within a few years- energy is energy boys – and this is were we are at !!! Nice Job Ted…… VT is dealing with these issues closely…. Northen Power is a great pioneer in this field- and yes they do have hearts….

  4. I agree but you are going too far with this article and not responding in an unbiased way. We need to stop this partisan approach – Solar and Wind are obviously the future but there are SOME issues. Subsonic is still a vibrating wave, which can cause, among other things, equilibrium issues (our ear is just a pocket of fluid with hairs to detect different frequencies), so no, we have no 25Hz hairs to detect the sound, but our ear is used for many other purposes, especially balance. So the way to attack the argument is:

    1) Focus on SPL (sound pressure level), because within a certain radius of every wind turbine this wave will be strong enough to interfere with our inner ear’s function.

    2) Then it will come down to some small radius (I’ve heard 6 miles but that was over the top analysis), obviously the SPL doesn’t need to be 0, there is some threshold below which it won’t matter. I could imagine living within 500m causing this issue in SOME people….

    Ted just speed up your video and turn the volume up.

    • There ARE some issues. The issues are that we NEED this technology implemented now. Take all that caution and energy and apply it to technology that is active and destroying our planet. NOW. Have you seen photographs of the coast of Nigeria? THAT is the result of our current, present use of oil. Every single reasonable solution (and, for the record, I don’t consider nuclear energy reasonable) that is not oil-based is a better solution than the status quo.

      Partisan? What it sounds like to me is that some people have a partisan interest in maintaining our current energy source and will offer any argument that sounds remotely reasonable to delay, sidetrack or eliminate any new energy source.

      Your argument even sounds reasonable, until the last suggestion. There is simply no way that my camera can record, or my computer can play back, so-called “subsonic sound”. Anything you hear is coming from your graphics card and your crap speakers.

      • Umm, I’m a sound Engineer. I think you misunderstand. If you record a subsonic sound (say 25 hz), you and speed it up (ie. playback at triple speed) then you will hear a 75hz sound. There is no magic to it, can be done with a tape recorder.

        We do this to hear elephants communicate since some of the sounds they make are subsonic. We just record them, then play back at 4 times speed and we can hear the sounds clearly.

        Sure your recording is bad, but I was just trying to make a point. Which I think you misunderstood.

      • Thanks for clarifying. So you, as a sound engineer, are going to say that the mike on my Nikon D5000 can record 25Hz? Funny, this pro-grade cardioid dynamic mike can only record 50Hz: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SM58

        And I find it interesting that your blog says you’re a playwright and lyricist. Which is it?

  5. Pro grade in a D5000? Hardly. I have one and it has about the worst sounding audio I have heard. But then it sounds like you have a problem of hearing anything (intelligent anyway).

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