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Annoyance, detection and recognition of wind turbine noise

Annoyance, recognition and detection of noise from a single wind turbine were studied by means of a two-stage listening experiment with 50 participants with normal hearing abilities. In-situ recordings made at close distance from a 1.8-MW wind turbine operating at 22 rpm were mixed with road traffic noise, and processed to simulate indoor sound pressure levels at LAeq 40 dBA. In a first part, where people were unaware of the true purpose of the experiment, samples were played during a quiet leisure activity. Under these conditions, pure wind turbine noise gave very similar annoyance ratings as unmixed highway noise at the same equivalent level, while annoyance by local road traffic noise was significantly higher. In a second experiment, listeners were asked to identify the sample containing wind turbine noise in a paired comparison test. The detection limit of wind turbine noise in presence of highway noise was estimated to be as low as a signal-to-noise ratio of −23 dBA. When mixed with local road traffic, such a detection limit could not be determined. These findings support that noticing the sound could be an important aspect of wind turbine noise annoyance at the low equivalent levels typically observed indoors in practice. Participants that easily recognized wind-turbine(–like) sounds could detect wind turbine noise better when submersed in road traffic noise. Recognition of wind turbine sounds is also linked to higher annoyance. Awareness of the source is therefore a relevant aspect of wind turbine noise perception which is consistent with previous research.

Timothy Van Renterghem, Annelies Bockstael, Valentine De Weirt, Dick Botteldooren
Department of Information Technology, Ghent University, Gent, Belgium

Science of the Total Environment 456–457 (2013) 333–345

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