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Resource Documents: Impacts (118 items)

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Documents presented here are not the product of nor are they necessarily endorsed by National Wind Watch. These resource documents are provided to assist anyone wishing to research the issue of industrial wind power and the impacts of its development. The information should be evaluated by each reader to come to their own conclusions about the many areas of debate.


Date added:  November 30, 2016
NoisePrint storyE-mail story

Effects of amplitude modulation on perception of wind turbine noise

Author:  Gwak, Doo Young; et al.

Abstract:
Wind turbine noise is considered to be easily detectable and highly annoying at relatively lower sound levels than other noise sources. Many previous studies attributed this characteristic to amplitude modulation. However, it is unclear whether amplitude modulation is the main cause of these properties of wind turbine noise. Therefore, the aim of the current study is to identify the relationship between amplitude modulation and these two properties of wind turbine noise. For this investigation, two experiments were conducted. In the first experiment, 12 participants determined the detection thresholds of six target sounds in the presence of background noise. In the second experiment, 12 participants matched the loudness of modified sounds without amplitude modulation to that of target sounds with amplitude modulation. The results showed that the detection threshold was lowered as the modulation depth increased; additionally, sounds with amplitude modulation had higher subjective loudness than those without amplitude modulation.

Kiseop Yoon, Doo Young Gwak, Yeolwan Seong, Seunghoon Lee, Jiyoung Hong, and Soogab Lee

Journal of Mechanical Science and Technology
October 2016, Volume 30, Issue 10, pp 4503–4509
DOI: 10.1007/s12206-016-0918-7

Kiseop Yoon is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Seoul National University. He received his B.S. degree from the School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Seoul National University in 2011. His research interests are in the area of active noise control system and the perception of environmental noise.

Doo Young Gwak is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Seoul National University. He received his B.S. degree from the School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Seoul National University in 2010. His research interests are in the area of psychoacoustics and the prediction of ‘drone’ noise.

Yeolwan Seong is a Researcher in the Defense Agency for Technology and Quality at Daejeon. He received his M.S. degree from the School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Seoul National University in 2013. His research interests are in the area of psychoacoustics and railway noise.

Seunghoon Lee is a Researcher in the Korea Aerospace Research Institute at Daejeon. He received his Ph.D. degree from the School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Seoul National University in 2014. His research interests are in the area of helicopter aerodynamics and wind turbine noise.

Jiyoung Hong is a Researcher in the Korea Railroad Research Institute at Uiwang. She received her Ph.D. degree from the School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Seoul National University in 2011. Her research interests are in the area of human noise perception and environmental noise impact assessment.

Soogab Lee is a Professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Seoul National University. He received his Ph.D. in Aeronautics and Astronautics from Stanford University in 1992. He worked as a Research Scientist at NASA Ames Research Center from 1992 to 1995. His research interests are in the area of aerodynamics and acoustics of rotating machines including wind turbine systems.

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Date added:  November 16, 2016
Health, NoisePrint storyE-mail story

Physiological effects of wind turbine noise on sleep

Author:  Smith, Michael; Ögren, Mikael; Thorsson, Pontus; Pedersen, Eja; and Persson Waye, Kerstin

Abstract:
In accordance with the EU energy policy, wind turbines are becoming increasingly widespread throughout Europe, and this trend is expected to continue globally. More people will consequently live close to wind turbines in the future, and hence may be exposed to wind farm noise. Of particular concern is the potential for nocturnal noise to contribute towards sleep disturbance of nearby residents. To examine the issue, we are implementing a project titled Wind Turbine Noise Effects on Sleep (WiTNES). In a pilot study described in this paper, we performed an initial investigation into the particular acoustical characteristics of wind turbine noise that might have the potential to disturb sleep. Six young, healthy individuals spent 5 nights in our sound exposure laboratory. During the final 3 nights of the study, the participants were exposed to wind turbine noise, which was synthesised based on analysis of field measurements. Exposures involved periods of different amplitude modulation strengths, the presence or absence of beats, different blade rotational periods, and outdoor LAEq,8h=45 or 50 dB with indoor levels based on the windows being fully closed or slightly open. Physiological measurements indicate that nights with low frequency band amplitude modulation and LAEq,8h=45 dB, slightly open window (LAEq,8h=33 dB indoors) impacted sleep the most. The presence of beats and strong amplitude modulation contributed to sleep disturbance, reflected by more electrophysiological awakenings, increased light sleep and wakefulness, and reduced REM and deep sleep. The impact on sleep by these acoustic characteristics is currently the focus of interest in ongoing studies.

Michael G. Smith, Mikael Ögren, Pontus Thorsson, Eja Pedersen, and Kerstin Persson Waye
University of Gothenburg, Sweden (MGS, MÖ, KPW).
Chalmers University of Technology Sweden (PT).
Lund University, Sweden (EP).

Presented at the 22nd International Congress on Acoustics, Buenos Aires, 5–9 September 2016

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Date added:  November 8, 2016
Environment, Europe, Regulations, U.K.Print storyE-mail story

Turbid wakes associated with offshore wind turbines observed with Landsat 8

Author:  Vanhellemont, Quinten; and Ruddick, Kevin

Abstract:
In the last decade, the number of offshore wind farms has increased rapidly. Offshore wind farms are typically constructed in near-shore, shallow waters. These waters can be highly productive or provide nursery grounds for fish. EU legislation requires assessment of the environmental impact of the wind farms. The effects on hard and soft substrate fauna, seabirds and marine mammals are most frequently considered. Here we present Landsat-8 imagery that reveals the impact of offshore wind farms on suspended sediments. Turbid wakes of individual turbines are observed that are aligned with tidal currents. They are 30–150 m wide, and several km in length. The environmental impact of these wakes and the source of the suspended material are still unclear, but the wake size warrants further study. The underwater light field will be affected by increased suspended sediments and the turbid wakes could significantly impact sediment transport and downstream sedimentation. The question of whether such features can be detected by other remote sensors is addressed by a theoretical analysis of the signal:noise specification for the Operational Land Imager (OLI), the Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus (ETM +), the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR/3), the Moderate-Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS), the Spinning Enhanced Visible and Infrared Imager (SEVIRI), the Flexible Combined Imager (FCI) and the Multispectral Instrument (MSI) and by a demonstration of the impact of processing OLI data for different spatial resolutions.

offshore-wind-turbid-wakes

Quinten Vanhellemont and Kevin Ruddick
Royal Belgian Institute for Natural Sciences (RBINS), Operational Directorate Natural Environment, Brussels, Belgium

Remote Sensing of Environment Volume 145, 5 April 2014, Pages 105–115
doi: 10.1016/j.rse.2014.01.009

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Date added:  November 8, 2016
Environment, Regulations, WildlifePrint storyE-mail story

Ecological impact assessments fail to reduce risk of bat casualties at wind farms

Author:  Lintott, Paul; Richardson, Suzanne; Hosken, David; Fensome, Sophie; and Mathews, Fiona

Demand for renewable energy is rising exponentially. While this has benefits in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, there may be costs to biodiversity [1]. Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) are the main tool used across the world to predict the overall positive and negative effects of renewable energy developments before planning consent is given, and the Ecological Impact Assessments (EcIAs) within them assess their species-specific effects. Given that EIAs are undertaken globally, are extremely expensive, and are enshrined in legislation, their place in evidence-based decision making deserves evaluation. Here we assess how well EIAs of wind-farm developments protect bats. We found they do not predict the risks to bats accurately, and even in those cases where high risk was correctly identified, the mitigation deployed did not avert the risk. Given that the primary purpose of an EIA is to make planning decisions evidence-based, our results indicate that EIA mitigation strategies used to date have been ineffective in protecting bats. In the future, greater emphasis should be placed on assessing the actual impacts post-construction and on developing effective mitigation strategies.

The high legal protection of bats (e.g., Europe: EUROBATS 2014; North America: Endangered Species Act 1973), together with the known risks to bats from wind farms (e.g. [2]), means that detailed preconstruction ecological assessments are frequently undertaken. Acoustic surveys are widely used to provide an estimate of bat activity from which collision risk is inferred. However, bat activity is highly variable – both spatially and temporally. It is therefore unclear whether the survey protocols currently employed assess bat activity with sufficient precision and repeatability to be of practical value in inferring risk for developments. Determining the best methods to assess likely impacts on bats from wind turbines is regarded as a research priority by EUROBATS [3]. To our knowledge, there has only been one study (in North America) that investigates the value of using bat activity to predict the risk to bats from future wind turbines. This found that pre-construction bat activity was not a significant indicator of collision risk [4]; however, the value of EIAs in predicting risk was not assessed. We therefore assessed the effectiveness of pre-construction EIAs as a tool to aid decision-makers in determining the impact of wind energy on bats.

We surveyed 46 wind farms across the UK for bat fatalities as part of a separate field study investigating the impact of wind turbines on bats. We were able to obtain EcIAs for 29 of these sites; the remaining EcIAs could not be obtained from public sources or developers. Eighteen EcIAs concluded that a field assessment of bat presence/activity was not required (evidenced by statements in the EcIA such as “Surveys are unnecessary as the development does not affect any features likely to be used by bats”), or inferred based on field surveys that no significant effects on any protected species would occur (see also Table S1 in Supplemental Information, published with this article online). However, during our post-construction surveys we found that half of these sites contained casualties (ranging from one to 64 fatalities per month during the July–October survey period), and 97% had evidence of bat activity (ranging from one to 236 passes per night). The perception of risk to bats during EcIAs was not significant in predicting either bat casualty rates (Figure 1A) or activity levels post-construction (see also Figure S1). While there was a positive relationship between sites ranked by perceived risk to bat populations and the ranking of sites by casualties per month (Figure 1B), there was considerable scatter in the data, and 9 sites identified as having the lowest risk had more than 1 casualty per month.

Figure 1. The relationship between pre-construction assessment of risks to bats and post-construction fatalities. (A) The difference in the average number of bat casualties per site between wind farms where preconstruction surveys perceived different levels of risk. Error bars depict the standard error of the mean (n = 29). (B) The marginally significant relationship between ranked pre-construction assessment of risk to bats and ranked post-construction fatality estimates (ρ (29) = 0.36, p = 0.05). Sites are ranked in ascending order of perceived risk. Circle size is proportional to the number of sites at a particular ranking (range 1 to 3 sites).

Figure 1. The relationship between pre-construction assessment of risks to bats and post-construction fatalities. (A) The difference in the average number of bat casualties per site between wind farms where preconstruction surveys perceived different levels of risk. Error bars depict the standard error of the mean (n = 29). (B) The marginally significant relationship between ranked pre-construction assessment of risk to bats and ranked post-construction fatality estimates (ρ (29) = 0.36, p = 0.05). Sites are ranked in ascending order of perceived risk. Circle size is proportional to the number of sites at a particular ranking (range 1 to 3 sites).

Our results show that sites which may have been perceived as of poor quality for bats can contain casualties after wind turbine construction. Similarly, bat activity recording during pre-construction surveys may not accurately reflect activity levels post-construction. This may be due to bats changing their behaviour at turbines [5], as bats may be attracted to wind farm sites for a variety of reasons, including the emission of ultrasound from turbines [6] and increased prey availability [5]. It is therefore essential that future mitigation strategies are formed with an understanding of how bat behaviour differs at sites after turbines have been constructed. Additionally, surveying effort has to be adequate both spatially and temporally to assess risks to bats in the first place. Pre-construction surveys are conducted predominantly at ground level due to the difficulties and cost of surveying at height; however, where meteorological masts are in place (or as drone technology develops) then conducting acoustic surveys within the rotor-swept area may give a more accurate assessment of risk. But this relationship has yet to be tested.

Of those sites identified as posing a significant risk to bats in the EcIA surveys, risk does not appear to have been adequately mitigated. Indeed, one of these mitigated sites had the highest recorded casualty rate. In the UK, regulations state that “if significant harm cannot be avoided, adequately mitigated, or as a last resort, compensated for, planning permission should be refused” and similar legislation applies in many other countries. We conclude that significant harm was not avoided at these significant risk sites.

Given the economic cost of EcIAs, the value attached to their findings during planning applications, and the possible consequences to biodiversity of errors, it is vital that they are fit for the purpose. We highlight that although EIAs give the perception of rigorous safeguarding of environmental standards and may portray energy companies with an environmentally friendly public image, considerable time and expense goes into deploying bat detectors at pre-construction sites with little justification. Although the use of EIAs has evolved differently between nations [7], there is a pressing global need to identify the procedures which can accurately identify risk to bats (e.g., Brazil [8]). The precautionary principle indicates that sites perceived to contain little collision threat to bats should be treated with caution until there is a greater understanding of how to identify risk factors to bats. On occasions when mitigation is currently deemed unnecessary, post-construction surveys should still be conducted (e.g. carcass searches) to ensure that the predictions are accurate and bat behaviour has not altered from pre-construction levels. Establishing the species assemblage at a site may nevertheless have some value in identifying the presence of species at high collision risk and/or of particular conservation concern in the region. In mainland Europe, automated systems using weather variables and site-specific post-construction bat activity data have been used to trigger turbine curtailments to minimise bat collisions [9]. Pre-construction surveys may therefore still be useful as the data (e.g., nightly and seasonal peaks of activity) may provide an indication of the extent of curtailment that is required and therefore the economic viability of the project. Our results highlight the importance of longitudinal monitoring of major developments and a feedback mechanism for practitioners to share the success or failure of mitigation strategies.

Paul R. Lintott, Suzanne M. Richardson, David J. Hosken, Sophie A. Fensome, and Fiona Mathews
Hatherly Laboratories, Biosciences, College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University
of Exeter, Prince of Wales Road, Exeter, UK; and (S.A.F.) Centre for Ecology and Conservation, University of Exeter, Cornwall, Tremough, Penryn, Cornwall, UK.

Current Biology 26, R1119–36, November 7, 2016 [Correspondence]
doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2016.10.003

REFERENCES

1. Wang, S., and Wang, S. (2015). Impacts of wind energy on environment: a review. Renew. Sustainable Energy Rev. 49, 437–443.

2. Arnett, E.B., and Baerwald, E.F. (2013). Impacts of wind energy development on bats: implications for conservation. In Bat Evolution, Ecology, and Conservation, R.A. Adams and S.C. Pedersen, eds. (Springer: New York), pp. 435–456.

3. Rodrigues, L., Bach, M.-J., Dubourg-Savage, B., Karapandža, D., Kovacˇ , T., Kervyn, J., Dekker, A., Kepel, P., Bach, J., Collins, C. et al. (2015). Guidelines for consideration of bats in wind farm projects – Revision 2014. EUROBATS Publication Series NO. 6 (English version). (Bonn: UNEP/EUROBATS Secretariat).

4. Hein, C.D., Gruver, J., and Arnett, E.B. (2013). Relating pre-construction bat activity and postconstruction bat fatality to predict risk at wind energy facilities: a synthesis. A report submitted to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Bat Conservation International, Austin, TX, USA.

5. Cryan, P.M., Gorresen, P.M., Hein, C.D., Schirmacher, M.R., Diehl, R.H., Huso, M.M., Hayman, D.T.S., Fricker, P.D., Bonaccorso, F.J., Johnson, D.H., et al. (2014). Behaviour of bats at wind turbines. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 111, 15126–15131.

6. Kunz, T.H., Arnett, E.B., Erickson, W.P., Hoar, A.R., Johnson, G.D., Larkin, R.P., Strickland, M.D., Thresher, R.W., and Tuttle, M.D. (2007). Ecological impacts of wind energy development on bats: questions, research needs, and hypotheses. Front. Ecol. Environ. 5, 315–324.

7. Glasson, J., Therivel, R. and Chadwick, A. (2013). Introduction of Environmental Impact Assessment: Fourth Edition. (Routledge: New York).

8. Valença, R.B., and Bernard, E., (2015). Another blown in the wind: bats and the licensing of wind farms in Brazil. Natureza & Conservação 13, 117–122.

9. Behr, O., Brinkmann, R., Niermann, I., and Korner-Nievergelt. F. (2011). Fledermausfreundliche Betreibsalgorithm fur Windenergieanlagen. In Entwicklung von Methoden zur Untersuchung und Reduktion des Kollsionsrisikos van Fledermäusen an Onshore- Windenergieanlagen. Umwelt und Raum, eds R. Brinkmann., O. Behr., I. Niermann and M. Reich, eds. (Cuvillier Verlag: Göttingen), pp. 354–383.

Download original document: “Ecological impact assessments fail to reduce risk of bat casualties at wind farms”

Download Supplemental figures and table – “Ecological impact assessments fail to reduce risk of bat casualties at wind farms”

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