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Resource Documents: Impacts (126 items)

RSSImpacts

Also see NWW "costs/benefits" FAQ

Unless indicated otherwise, documents presented here are not the product of nor are they necessarily endorsed by National Wind Watch. These resource documents are shared here 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. • The copyrights reside with the sources indicated. As part of its noncommercial effort to present the environmental, social, scientific, and economic issues of large-scale wind power development to a global audience seeking such information, National Wind Watch endeavors to observe “fair use” as provided for in section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law and similar “fair dealing” provisions of the copyright laws of other nations.


Date added:  July 8, 2019
Environment, WildlifePrint storyE-mail story

Impact of wind energy on wildife and the environment

Author:  Henderson, Peter; Krüger, Oliver; Richarz, Klaus; and Byrne, Paula

This publication focuses on a topic that has previously been a taboo for policymakers, but also for nature conservation organisations in Germany. The environmentally destructive effects of renewable energies has never been widely discussed – mainly because they are seen as reducing carbon dioxide emissions. … The German Wildlife Foundation is not generally against wind energy. We are not opposed to any technology. But we are opposed to the unbridled expansion of energy projects in natural environments and natural spaces, a process that is increasingly happening today, especially in Germany. … The papers in this publication show what threats nature and wildlife now face from this expansion.

Fritz Vahrenholt, German Wildlife Foundation

The Global Warming Policy Foundation, an educational think tank based in London, does not have a position on wind energy or renewable energy. We neither oppose nor promote it. However, we are in favour of weighing up the pros and cons. Any form of energy production, whether conventional or renewable, has its costs and benefits, and many environmental problems come with every form of energy generation.

One of the big problems that confronts us today is that we live in an age where some of these issues are taboo; where particular topics cannot be openly discussed. Throughout history, whenever societies were faced with a lack of openness or censorship, grave mistakes have been inevitable. After all, you can only learn from mistakes if you are allowed to talk about problems openly. It is in this context that it is eminently important that the pros and cons of all forms of energy generation are openly addressed. Only by weighing up the pros and cons can politicians and the wider public get a better idea of what is reasonable and what is unreasonable.

We are not opponents of wind energy. Where wind energy makes sense it should be used. Wherever it is unreasonable and destructive, it should be avoided. The problem, of course, is that we often don’t fully understand the positive and negative impacts. I hope that this booklet will allow readers to have a better understanding of both German and international developments, so that the interested public can get a better picture of these particular problems of conservation.

Benny Peiser, Global Warming Policy Foundation

This paper, produced by the Global Warming Policy Foundation and the German Wildlife Foundation, takes a Europe-wide look at the conflict between wind energy and nature conservation. In many European countries, people are opposing wind energy projects that are destroying wildlife habitats. … In particular, the consequences of wind turbines in forests are serious for many types of wildlife. We observe with great concern the massive expansion of wind power in Germany’s forest areas. … An open and constructive debate on the consequences that wind energy can have on wildlife – from insects to black storks to wildcats – is more than overdue.

The German Wildlife Foundation regards wind energy as an important contributor to the energy mix of the future. Its further expansion in Germany, Europe and also worldwide, however, should not be promoted at any price. For Germany, at least for the construction of wind turbines in the forest, we demand a moratorium. This would allow us to reconsider the future course of action and, on the basis of scientific findings and national and European nature conservation laws, to adopt a far-sighted course in line with the precautionary principle that is enshrined in environmental policy.

Hilmar Freiherr von Münchhausen, German Wildlife Foundation

Contents:
Ecological impacts of wind turbines – Peter Henderson, Pisces Conservation and University of Oxford
Wind power and birds of prey: problems and possible solutions – Oliver Krüger, University of Bielefeld
Wind energy in forests and species conservation: vision and reality – Klaus Richarz, Bundesverband Wissenschaftlicher Vogelschutz
Wind energy in Ireland – Paula Byrne, Wind Aware Ireland

© Copyright 2019 The Global Warming Policy Foundation

Download original document: “The impact of wind energy on wildife and the environment

See also: 
Green killing machines: The impact of renewable energy on wildlife and nature”, by Andrew Montford
Truly Green? How Germany’s ‘Energy Transition’ is destroying nature”, by Michael Miersch, director of the German Wildlife Foundation (Deutsche Wildtier Stiftung)
Grüne Energie? Wie ökologisch sind Windkraft und Biogas?

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Date added:  July 6, 2019
Australia, NoisePrint storyE-mail story

Bald Hills noise monitoring data

Author:  Thorne, Bob; and Noise Measurement Services

Bald Hills Wind Farm Summary Report (45.04 MB) [alt. link]

Bald Hills Noise Monitoring PTR Data: “The 40 dB(A) noise limit is exceeded on the days coloured ‘peach’/’transparent red’ (PTR)”

Bald Hills Noise Diary Analysis May 2018 to March 2019 Final.xlsx (0.29 MB) [alt. link]

Comparison of wind vs special audible characteristics (SACs) vs power generation (SCADA), May-Sept 2018 (5.64 MB) [alt. link]

Bald Hills Wind Farm Video (141.79 MB) [alt. link]:

Sample noise event charts (colour dots represent noise complaints):

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Date added:  June 23, 2019
Health, NoisePrint storyE-mail story

Silent Menace (Part 1 of 2): Wind Turbine Infrasound – What You Can’t Hear Can Hurt You

Author:  Deever, Donald Allen

June 1, 2019 – Desert Report: Sierra Club California/Nevada Desert Committee

Sci-fi fans remember the tagline from the Alien movie poster, which ominously declared, “In space, no one can hear you scream.” Likewise, research on the infrasound frequencies produced by industrial wind turbine blades is increasingly providing proof that what you can’t hear, can hurt you. Accordingly, it is worth noting that there is a huge difference between the auditory terms “sound” and “noise.” According to the Canadian Centre for Occupation Health and Safety, “Sound is what we hear. Noise is unwanted sound.” When speaking of the sounds generated by industrial wind turbines, the operative term is “noise,” and an important difference between sound and noise – including when infrasound noise is not heard by the ears – is that it can be felt by the brain and internal organs. Such an insight makes it all the worse to learn that infrasound noise can travel over much longer distances than previously admitted by the wind energy industry. Moreover, the intensity of potentially harmful levels of infrasound vibrations do not dissipate as quickly as formerly believed.

Along those lines, an important German study calculated the distances over which wind turbines can have unanticipated effects. The 2016 study warned how wind turbine-produced infrasound interferes with Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty monitoring equipment that is operated by Germany in the Bavarian Forest and Antarctica. The purpose of those stations are to verify compliance with the International Monitoring System that exists to detect nuclear explosions occurring in the atmosphere.[1] The conclusion of that study suggested that a distance of 20 kilometers between a single wind turbine and the monitoring stations should be considered a rule of thumb and that a separation of 50 kilometers should be maintained between multi-element wind energy facilities and monitoring stations. The introduction to that article tells of a variety of studies that already took place to identify the hazards that wind turbine infrasound were already wreaking on similar monitoring stations on Ascension Island, as well as a station in southern California where the monitoring equipment is located 35 kilometers from a so-called “wind farm.” Moreover, the historical portion of that study mentioned, “Wind turbine noise effects on seismometer stations have also been investigated and reported for example at AS104 station in Eskdalemuir, UK. Stammler and Ceranna investigate the increasing influence of wind turbines on seismic records, depending on the wind speed and on the number of newly build wind turbines in the vicinity of seismic sensors.” This suggests that wind turbine infrasound could interfere with the monitoring and prediction of earthquakes and associated tsunami warnings.

The great distances that infrasound waves travel from their source was also documented in a study by the Los Alamos and Sandia Laboratories, published in 2014.[2] In New Mexico, infrasound from sixty wind turbines could be detected 90 kilometers from the source under favorable conditions at night. The present trend of the wind energy industry is to push for more offshore than onshore facilities, yet studies in acoustics show that sound waves travel further over water than land, and that cooler water temperatures create inversions that cause sound waves to bend downward and become amplified which is a thought that leads to a study in Finland.

A 2016 Finnish pilot study belatedly made international news in 2018, when the Finnish Association for Environmental Health studied 200 persons affected by wind turbine infrasound. The report showed the severity of adverse health symptoms did not decrease for the first 15 kilometers from the source. It also determined that the effects were not correlated with the expectations of the persons being studied. This represented a major finding, since few countries require more than a 2 kilometer setback of wind turbines from homes.[3] The results of the Finnish study should not have been a surprise among occupational medical health professionals. In 1999, a report was published by the International Journal of Occupational Medicine and Environmental Health,[4] which stated, “Owing to its long wavelength, infrasonic noise is less attenuated by walls and other structures, it is able to propagate over long distances and may affect the human organism even though the latter is far from its source.”

In light of the proliferation of wind energy, one might ask, “How long have the negative effects of wind turbine-generated infrasound been known?” The first solid evidence for estimating the levels of annoyance from infrasound on humans was found thirty-two years ago. In 1987, Neil Kelley pioneered the field of wind turbine noise annoyance when he presented a study at the WindPower ’87 Conference and Exhibition in San Francisco.[5] His lecture was titled A Proposed Metric for Assessing the Potential of Community Annoyance from Wind Turbine Low-frequency Noise Emissions. That research was carried out at the Solar Energy Research Institute in Golden, Colorado, and sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy. Kelly’s lab-based report directly linked infrasound to annoyance among human subjects, thereby indirectly linking stress-related disorders from annoyance to wind turbine infrasound.

Since infrasound lies in the inaudible frequency range of less than 20 Hertz, “What you can’t hear, can’t hurt you” was a mantle of protection the wind industry hid under for decades. Few governments embrace the concept of wind energy as enthusiastically as Germany, yet a highly-publicized 2017 report from their Max Planck Institute found that infrasound, even though it is inaudible, can produce measurable effects in recorded brain function.[6] According to their report, “this study is the first to demonstrate that infrasound near the hearing threshold may induce changes of neural activity across several brain regions, some of which are known to be involved in auditory processing, while others are regarded as key players in emotional and autonomic control.”

This 2017 study from the Max Planck Institute, “Altered Cortical and Subcortical Connectivity Due to Infrasound Administered Near the Hearing Threshold – Evidence from fMRI”, also broached the topic of increased cortisol secretions that occur as a result. According to the authors of that report, “since the brain’s response to prolonged near-threshold IS [infrasound] involves the activation of brains areas which are known to play a crucial role in emotional and autonomic control, a potential link between IS-induced changes of brain activity and the emergence of various physiological as well as psychological health effects can be established.”

Citing earlier research, the authors stated, “It has been reported in several studies that sustained exposure to noise can lead to an increase of catecholamine and cortisol levels. In addition, changes of bodily functions, such as blood pressure, respiration rate, EEG patterns and heart rate have also been documented in the context of exposure to below- and near-threshold IS (infrasound).” The references to those citations are contained in that study. Equally enlightening is a study that was published fifteen years earlier (2002) in Sweden, “Low Frequency Noise Enhances Cortisol Among Noise Sensitive Subjects During Work Performance.”[7]

Pre-dating the research from the Max Planck Institute, back in 1985, infrasound was similarly found to increase secretions of the hormone cortisol (causing a flight or fight response), which, at sufficiently high levels, can stress the body and mind to trigger annoyance, apathy, confusion, fatigue, an inability to concentrate, and painful pressure in the ears, all of which represents merely short term symptoms. Too much cortisol in the long term eventually weakens immunosuppressive action, weight gain, brain damage, hyperglycemia (elevated blood sugar levels that lead to diabetes), and a shut down of digestive and endocrine functions. In the end, prolonged cortisol production can lead to hypertension.[8] Fast-forward approximately 25 years to 2011, when Canada’s Environmental Review Tribunal made history by officially declaring that the health debate is no longer whether wind turbine noise is harmful to human health but has evolved into one of the degree of harm, Erickson v. Director, Ministry of the Environment. 2011. Environmental Review Tribunal Nos. 10-121 and 10-122.[9] A simple experiment to witness the end of the debate over wind turbine noise can be seen by going to Google Scholar and observing the results from searching the terms “wind turbine” AND “health effect” together.[10]

On January 26, 2019, congratulations were issued by Cape Cod Wave Magazine to the people of Falmouth, Massachusetts, following their long fight to win a court decision to have a wind energy facility removed from their town. The courts sided with neighbors when it was demonstrated beyond a reasonable doubt that the harmful effects of infrasound emanating from the wind turbines did not justify their existence, and therefore the company was ordered to cease operations and dismantle the towers.[11] Such a legal pronouncement indicates that an understanding concerning the adverse effects of industrial wind turbines has advanced beyond the realm of political opinion and moved into the arena of evidence.

Next month: Part 2 of this series will explore research on potentially harmful effects on animals, pets and wildlife, and will look at the facts or fantasy of President Donald J. Trump’s recently criticized comment that wind turbine infrasound can cause cancer.

Dr. Donald Allen Deever is a former park ranger, science teacher, flight instructor, freelance journalist, and PhD with majors in nursing education, software development, and writing pedagogy. He recently helped defeat the Crescent Peak Wind project in Southern Nevada, one of the most misplaced wind energy developments in history. He and his wife live in Searchlight on their own ten-acre nature preserve.

Download original document: “Silent Menace (Part 1 of 2): Wind Turbine Infrasound – What You Can’t Hear Can Hurt You

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Date added:  June 22, 2019
Australia, Noise, RegulationsPrint storyE-mail story

Wind turbine sound limits: Current status and recommendations based on mitigating noise annoyance

Author:  Davy, John; Burgemeister, Kym; and Hillman, David

Abstract:
This paper describes existing wind turbine sound limits in Australian states and several other countries with similar constraints, how these were established and a method that could facilitate their harmonisation. Most existing limits appear to have been adopted to avoid sleep disturbance using data derived from sound sources other than wind turbines. This seems to have been a reasonable approach at the time of their adoption because of the paucity of other suitable data. More recently the concept of “annoyance” has been used to encapsulate negative reactions to wind turbine sound. Many studies have now demonstrated a significant relationship between annoyance and wind turbine sound level, whether or not sound was the major source of the annoyance. Thus there is a logical basis for now deriving a wind turbine sound limit based on limiting annoyance. This paper describes such an approach. The derived limit is compared to existing Australian and international limits. Its value lies within the range of these other limits. It provides a method for harmonisation of future limits based on direct assessments of human response to wind turbine sound.

John L. Davy, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) University, Victoria, Australia
Kym Burgemeister, Arup Acoustics, East Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
David Hillman, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, Nedlands, Western Australia, Australia

Applied Acoustics
Volume 140, November 2018, Pages 288-295
doi: 10.1016/j.apacoust.2018.06.009

Fig. 1. The percentage of highly annoyed people as a function the outdoor wind turbine sound level exceeded for ninety percent of the time in a 10 min period. The sound pressure levels have been converted to LA90(10min) from their original values.

Fig. 2. The percentage of highly annoyed people according to the Community Tolerance Level model as a function the outdoor wind turbine sound level exceeded for ninety percent of the time in a 10 min period. The sound pressure levels have been converted to LA90(10min) from their original values.

Fig. 3. The percentage of highly annoyed people as a function the outdoor wind turbine sound level exceeded for ninety percent of the time in a 10 min period. The sound pressure levels have been converted to LA90(10min) from their original values.

Our analysis derives a maximum sound level limit for wind turbine sound based on permitting no more than 10% of the population to be highly annoyed when exposed to wind turbine sound at the maximum sound level limit. Such a 10% threshold is commonly used when setting hearing protection noise limits, and is similar to the 8% used when setting the Dutch wind turbine sound limits. Thus Fig. 3 and Eq. (2) suggest that the mean limit for wind turbine sound should be an LA90(10min) of 35 dBA.

Fig. 4. The percentage of highly annoyed people indoors and outdoors as a function the outdoor wind turbine sound level LA90(10min). The Canadian curves are based on survey data from Ontario and Prince Edward Island provinces. The European curves are based on Dutch and Swedish survey data. The original Lden and LAeq levels have been converted to LA90(10min).

Table 1. Wind Turbine Sound Limits.

Standard Quantity Area Time Background LA90(10min) Limit
ETSU-R-97
England
LA90(10min) No financial Involvement Day ≤30 to 35 dB 35 to 40 dB
ETSU-R-97
England
LA90(10min) No financial Involvement Day >30 to 35 dB BKGND + 5 dB
ETSU-R-97
England
LA90(10min) No financial Involvement Night ≤38 dB 43 dB
ETSU-R-97
England
LA90(10min) No financial Involvement Night >38 dB BKGND + 5 dB
ETSU-R-97
England
LA90(10min) Financial Involvement Any ≤40 dB 45 dB
ETSU-R-97
England
LA90(10min) Financial Involvement Any >40 dB BKGND + 5 dB
VIC NZS 6808:1998 LA95(10min) Any Any ≤35 dB(LA95) 40 dB
VIC NZS 6808:1998 LA95(10min) Any Any >35 dB(LA95) BKGND + 5 dB
SA EPA 2003 LAeq(10min) Prediction LA90(10min) Measurement Any Any ≤30 dB 35 dB
SA EPA 2003 LAeq(10min) Prediction LA90(10min) Measurement Any Any >30 dB BKGND + 5 dB
WA 2004 LAeq(10min) Any Any ≤30 dB 35 dB
WA 2004 LAeq(10min) Any Any >30 dB BKGND + 5 dB
SA EPA 2009 LAeq(10min) Prediction LA90(10min) Measurement Standard Any ≤35 dB 40 dB
SA EPA 2009 LAeq(10min) Prediction LA90(10min) Measurement Standard Any >35 dB BKGND + 5 dB
SA EPA 2009 LAeq(10min) Prediction LA90(10min) Measurement Rural Living Any ≤30 dB 35 dB
SA EPA 2009 LAeq(10min) Prediction LA90(10min) Measurement Rural Living Any >30 dB BKGND + 5 dB
VIC NZS 6808:2010 LA90(10min) Standard Any ≤35 dB 40 dB
VIC NZS 6808:2010 LA90(10min) Standard Any >35 dB BKGND + 5 dB
VIC NZS 6808:2010 LA90(10min) High Amenity Day ≤35 dB 40 dB
VIC NZS 6808:2010 LA90(10min) High Amenity Day >35 dB BKGND + 5 dB
VIC NZS 6808:2010 LA90(10min) High Amenity Evening or Night less than 6 m/s ≤30 dB 35 dB
VIC NZS 6808:2010 LA90(10min) High Amenity Evening or Night less than 6 m/s >30 dB BKGND + 5 dB
NSW Draft 2011 LAeq(10min) LA90(10min) + 1.5 dB Any Day ≤30 dB 35 dB
NSW Draft 2011 LAeq(10min) LA90(10min) + 1.5 dB Any Day >30 dB BKGND + 5 dB
NSW Draft 2011 LAeq(10min) LA90(10min) + 1.5 dB Any Night ≤30 dB 35 dB
NSW Draft 2011 LAeq(10min) LA90(10min) + 1.5 dB Any Night >30 dB BKGND + 5 dB
QLD 2016 LAeq Prediction Non-host lot Day and Evening ≤32 dB 37 dB
QLD 2016 LAeq Prediction Non-host lot Day and Evening >32 dB BKGND + 5 dB
QLD 2016 LAeq Prediction Non-host lot Night ≤30 dB 35 dB
QLD 2016 LAeq Prediction Non-host lot Night >30 dB BKGND + 5 dB
QLD 2016 LAeq Prediction Host lot Any ≤40 dB 45 dB
QLD 2016 LAeq Prediction Host lot Any >40 dB BKGND + 5 dB
Demark LAeq, 8 m/s@10 m Standard Any Any 44 dB
Demark LAeq, 6 m/s@10 m Standard Any Any 42 dB
Demark LAeq, 8 m/s@10 m Noise Sensitive Any Any 39 dB
Demark LAeq, 6 m/s@10 m Noise Sensitive Any Any 37 dB
Canada, Ontario LAeq (1hr) Urban Any ≤38 dB RefBG 45 dB
Canada, Ontario LAeq (1hr) Urban Any >38 dB RefBG RefBG + 7 dB
Canada, Ontario LAeq (1hr) Rural Any ≤33 dB RefBG 40 dB
Canada, Ontario LAeq (1hr) Rural Any >33 dB RefBG RefBG + 7 dB
Sweden LAeq, 8 m/s@10 m Standard Any Any 40 dB
Sweden LAeq, 8 m/s@10 m Quiet Any Any 35 dB
Netherlands LAden Any Any Any 47 dB
Netherlands LAeq Any Night Any 41 dB

Download original document: “Wind turbine sound limits: Current status and recommendations based on mitigating noise annoyance

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