Accuracy of Model Predictions and the Effects of Atmospheric Stability on Wind Turbine Noise at the Maple Ridge Wind Power Facility, Lowville, NY
The main objective of this study was to measure the noise levels at two sites within Atlantic Renewable Energy Corporation’s Maple Ridge Wind Power Project located in Lewis County, New York, and compare actual levels with the model predictions that were available in the preconstruction Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS). The second objective was to examine atmospheric stability at Maple Ridge. Atmospheric stability was identified as a significant problem at a wind farm on the Dutch-German border. Stability occurs when ground level winds, where people live and reside, are decoupled from those at wind turbine hub-height. This can occur at the end of the day when the land mass begins to cool. It affects wind turbine noise because wind turbines can be operating and making noise when ground level winds are calm and we expect quiet surroundings.
This study demonstrated that summer, night-time noise levels exceeded levels predicted for two sites within the Maple Ridge Wind Farm. For winds above generator cut-in speed (e.g., 3.0 m/s @ 80-m), the measured noise was 3-7 dBA above predicted levels. The decoupling of ground level winds from higher level winds, i.e., atmospheric stability, was apparent in the noise data at both sites during evening and night-time periods. At wind speeds below 3.0 m/s, when wind turbines were supposedly inoperative, noise levels were 18.9 and 22.6 dBA above the expected background levels for each of the sites and these conditions occurred a majority of the time. The same results were evident in the evening period. Furthermore, digital recordings revealed prominent wind turbine sounds below cut-in speeds.
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