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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:  May 21, 2015
Germany, Health, NoisePrint storyE-mail story

Intensivierung der Forschung zu möglichen gesundheitlichen Auswirkungen bei Betrieb und Ausbau von Windenergieanlagen

Author:  German Medical Association

[Increasing research into possible health effects from the operation and expansion of wind turbinesThe motion of Dr. Bernd Lücke (printed matter VI – 106) will be transferred for further consideration to the Executive Board of the German Medical Association. Scroll down for English translation.]

Der Entschließungsantrag von Dr. Bernd Lücke (Drucksache VI – 106) wird zur weiteren Beratung an den Vorstand der Bundesärztekammer überwiesen:

Die Windenergie als eine der erneuerbaren Energieformen wird künftig stärker genutzt werden. Dies ist nach dem im Sommer 2011 beschlossenen Atomausstieg gesellschaftlicher Konsens. Der Ausstieg aus der Atomenergie zeigt, dass problematische Teilaspekte der Nutzung in die Zukunft verschoben wurden; bis heute ist die Frage der Endlagerung der Brennstäbe nicht wirklich gelöst. Bei den erneuerbaren Energieformen sollte daher im Vorfeld der gesamte Lebenszyklus dieser Technologien von der initialen Rohstoffbereitstellung bis hin zur Entsorgung in die Planungen und Risikoabwägungen einbezogen werden. Dieses erfordert wissenschaftlich fundierte Erkenntnisse zu möglichen gesundheitlichen Auswirkungen, um eine bewusste Abwägung von Nutzen und Zumutbarkeit von validen Beeinträchtigungen sowie Risiken vornehmen zu können. Insbesondere für die Immissionen im tieffrequenten und Infraschallbereich gibt es bisher keine belastbaren unabhängigen Studien, die mit für diesen Schallbereich geeigneter Messmethodik die Wirkungen auch unterhalb der Hörschwelle untersuchen. Somit ist eine gesundheitliche Unbedenklichkeit dieser Schallimmissionen derzeit nicht nachgewiesen.

Der 118. Deutsche Ärztetag 2015 fordert daher die Bundesregierung auf, die Wissenslücken zu den gesundheitlichen Auswirkungen von Infraschall und tieffrequentem Schall von Windenergieanlagen (WEA) durch wissenschaftliche Forschung zu schließen sowie offene Fragen im Bereich der Messmethoden zu klären und gegebenenfalls Regelwerke anzupassen, damit der Ausbau und der Betrieb von WEA mit Bedacht, Sorgfalt, ganzheitlicher Expertise, Nachhaltigkeit und gesamtgesellschaftlicher Verantwortung erfolgen kann.

Begründung:

Insbesondere bei den gesundheitlichen Auswirkungen von Infraschall (< 20 Hz) und tieffrequentem Schall (< 100 Hz) durch Immissionen und Emissionen von Windenergieanlagen bestehen noch offene Fragen, z. B. zur Wirkung von Schall unterhalb der Hörschwelle oder von tiefen Frequenzen bei steigender Expositionsdauer. Des Weiteren sollte ein Anpassungsbedarf bei Messmethoden und Regelwerken geprüft werden, z. B. bei der Übertragbarkeit von Abstrahlungs- und Ausbreitungsmodellen für kleinere WEA auf große Anlagen sowie bei verbindlichen Regelungen von Messung und Beurteilung tiefer Frequenzen (0,1 bis 20 Hz).

Kernziele:

118. Deutscher Ärztetag [118th German Medical Assembly]
Frankfurt, 12.05. – 15.05.2015
TOP VI – 106

Download original document: “118. Deutscher Ärztetag – Beschlussprotokoll”

(((( o ))))

Increase of research on possible health effects from operation and expansion of wind power installations.

The application for resolution by Dr. Bernd Lücke (printed paper IV-106) is being transferred to the executive board for further discussion: Wind power as a renewable energy source will be used more in the future. This is the societal consensus after the nuclear phase-out that was decided upon in summer of 2011. The phasing-out of nuclear power shows that some aspects of the utilization (of nuclear power) have been postponed to some point in the future; up to this day the question of final depositing spent fuel has not been solved in a satisfactory way.

Therefore, when looking at renewable energies, the whole life-cycle, from the sourcing of raw materials to final dismantling should become an integral part of the planning and risk assessment of those technologies. It requires profound scientific knowledge of possible health-related effects to make a conscious assessment of reasonableness and benefit versus risks and validated impairments. Especially for the emissions of infrasound and low-frequency sound there are no reliable and independent studies that look at that frequency range and, by using a suitable methodology, investigate effects below the threshold of hearing. Consequently, there is no proof that these emissions are safe from a health perspective.

For that reason, the 118. Congress of the German Medical Association is calling upon the Federal Government to fill the knowledge gaps regarding infrasound- and low frequency noise-related health effects of wind farms through scientific research and to clarify open questions concerning sound measurement methods and, if necessary, to adjust standards so that operation as well as the expansion can follow the principles of caution, diligence, holistic expertise, sustainability and social responsibility.

Reasons:

In particular, there are open questions regarding the health impacts of infrasound (<20Hz) and low frequency sound (<100Hz) through emissions and immissions from wind turbines, especially concerning the effects of noise below the threshold of hearing and at low frequencies at an increased duration of exposure.

Furthermore, an assessment should be made concerning adjustment requirements of measuring standards and regulations, for example for the transferability of emission and propagation models from smaller wind turbines to large-scale installations as well as for mandatory rules for measurement and evaluation of low frequencies (0.1–20Hz).

Main objectives:

Systematic, transparent, open and empirical research on those low frequencies that can enter the human body; interlinking with international research groups that have been studying that field for a long time; continuous publication of results and methodology; a moratorium of wind power developments in close proximity to settlements until sufficiently robust data is available that excludes any hazards with a high probability.

Regarding the matter of distances, noise emissions and shadow flicker the height of the installation as well as the location of the turbine in relation to settlements have to be considered and topographical conditions as well as the position of the sun and the prevailing wind direction have to be taken into account. If, for example, a wind park is located in an upwind or sun-facing direction of a settlement, noise propagation and shadow flicker will be more interfering compared to a situation where the installation is sited behind that settlement.

The Technical Instructions on Noise Abatement (TA Lärm) that urgently require updating and that are incapable of delivering adequate protection, should not be used as a protective regulation on a continuing basis.

The thereby initiated research on noise will play an important, health-protecting role on all levels of noise pollution – not only for the emissions of wind turbines. It is also important to research structure-borne noise (low-frequency vibration of solids from 100 to 0.1Hz) as it is emitted at hazardous levels by modern wind turbines. Structure-borne noise is produced, even when the rotors of the wind turbines are not running, solely by flexural vibration of the extremely high towers. It is transmitted via the foundations into the ground. Depending on geological and geomorphic conditions (soil and rock structure) of the site, structural-borne sound can easily travel up to 10km and then result in immissions into residential buildings.

It is therefore not sufficient to look at and investigate only air-borne infrasound if one wants to obtain explicable and useable insights. This is why, in the future, outdoor measurements made to evaluate health risks should be complemented by measurements taken inside dwellings (as opposed to the current practice of acoustical calculations).

Interactions of structure-borne and air-borne noise can lower the perception threshold of exposed persons significantly. Health effects in those persons may occur at very low (LFN) levels.

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Date added:  May 18, 2015
Health, NoisePrint storyE-mail story

Effect of wind turbine noise on sleep and quality of life

Author:  Onakpoya, Igho; O’Sullivan, Jack; Thompson, Matthew; and Heneghan, Carl

The effect of wind turbine noise on sleep and quality of life: A systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies

Highlights

Abstract.
Noise generated by wind turbines has been reported to affect sleep and quality of life (QOL), but the relationship is unclear. Our objective was to explore the association between wind turbine noise, sleep disturbance and quality of life, using data from published observational studies. We searched Medline, Embase, Global Health and Google Scholar databases. No language restrictions were imposed. Hand searches of bibliography of retrieved full texts were also conducted. The reporting quality of included studies was assessed using the STROBE guidelines. Two reviewers independently determined the eligibility of studies, assessed the quality of included studies, and extracted the data. We included eight studies with a total of 2433 participants. All studies were cross-sectional, and the overall reporting quality was moderate. Meta-analysis of six studies (n = 2364) revealed that the odds of being annoyed is significantly increased by wind turbine noise (OR: 4.08; 95% CI: 2.37 to 7.04; p < 0.00001). The odds of sleep disturbance was also significantly increased with greater exposure to wind turbine noise (OR: 2.94; 95% CI: 1.98 to 4.37; p < 0.00001). Four studies reported that wind turbine noise significantly interfered with QOL. Further, visual perception of wind turbine generators was associated with greater frequency of reported negative health effects. In conclusion, there is some evidence that exposure to wind turbine noise is associated with increased odds of annoyance and sleep problems. Individual attitudes could influence the type of response to noise from wind turbines. Experimental and observational studies investigating the relationship between wind turbine noise and health are warranted.

Igho J. Onakpoya, Carl J. Heneghan
Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine, University of Oxford, United Kingdom
Jack O’Sullivan
Department of Health Sciences and Medicine, Bond University, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia
Matthew J. Thompson
Department of Family Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA

Environment International, Volume 82, September 2015, Pages 1–9
doi:10.1016/j.envint.2015.04.014

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Date added:  May 11, 2015
Australia, Economics, EmissionsPrint storyE-mail story

Submission to the Senate Select Committee on Wind Turbines: Peter Lang

Author:  Lang, Peter

Wind’s effectiveness and CO2 avoidance cost

This submission focuses on the effectiveness of wind turbines at reducing CO2 emissions from electricity generation in Australia and the impact of the effectiveness on the estimates of abatement cost ($/tonne CO2 avoided) by wind energy.

It is often assumed that effectiveness of wind energy is 100%, i.e., 1 MWh of wind energy displaces the emissions from 1 MWh of the conventional energy displaced. But it is usually much less, and values as low as 53% have been reported. To be clear, 53% effective means wind turbines avoided 53% of the emissions that, in the absence of wind, would have been produced by the generators that were displaced by wind generation.

Empirical analyses of the emissions avoided in electricity grids in the U.S. and Europe indicate that (1) wind turbines are significantly less effective at avoiding emissions than is commonly assumed and (2) effectiveness decreases as the proportion of electricity generated by wind turbines increases.

Unfortunately, neither the Clean Energy Regulator (CER) nor the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) collect the CO2 emissions information needed for an accurate empirical estimate of effectiveness. Without good data for the emissions from power stations at time intervals of 30 minutes or less, estimates of emissions avoided by wind are biased high and have large uncertainty, i.e., we don’t know what emissions reductions are actually being achieved by wind generation. …

23 March 2015

Download original document: “Wind’s effectiveness and CO2 avoidance cost”

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Date added:  May 9, 2015
Australia, Noise, TechnologyPrint storyE-mail story

Constructive interference of tonal infrasound from synchronised wind farm turbines: evidence and implications

Author:  Bell, Andrew

SUMMARY.
Noise from wind farms is contentious: people who live nearby complain of annoyance, and yet broadband measurements of infrasound seem to indicate the noise is generally not above audibility criteria. The paradox can be resolved by supposing that wind farms generate a strong tonal signal at the blade passing frequency, 0.8 Hz, and that this infrasound, with a wavelength of 400 m, can constructively interfere if two or more wind turbines operate in synchrony and the path lengths differ by a multiple of 400 m. Coherent infrasound at 0.8 Hz could propagate many kilometres, would tend to carry many harmonics due to the rapid changes within its waveform, and the high harmonics in the 20–30 Hz band have the potential to be heard by human ears. The existence of coherent infrasound from wind turbines has not been specifically recognised, but evidence of the phenomenon can be discerned in two anomalies contained in data from recent infrasound monitoring of wind farms in South Australia. This paper interprets the anomalies in terms of a model which suggests that wind farms produce enhanced sound pressure levels when the blades of multiple machines become mutually entrained and the sound from them becomes coherent. The inference is that acoustic measures, which assume wind turbine signals are stationary, may not be accurate indicators of peak noise levels.

Andrew Bell
John Curtin School of Medical Research, Australian National University, Canberra

Acoustics Australia, Vol. 42, No.3, December 2014, pp. 212-218

Download original document: “Constructive interference of tonal infrasound from synchronised wind farm turbines: evidence and implications”

Also see:  Andrew Bell’s submission to the National Health and Medical Research Council regarding the NHMRC Draft Information Paper: Evidence on Wind Farms and Human Health.

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