Resource Documents: Canada (32 items)
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Author: Palmer, William
For 5 years, since the start-up of an array of 140 wind turbines, residents have filed complaints with the Ontario Ministry of the Environment (the regulator), and K2 Wind (the operator). Residents complained that the turbines produce a tonal sound, and that the irritation this produced impacted their sleep, their health, and the enjoyment of their property. To confirm tonality from the wind turbines, this research examined over 200 data examples from two families. These families collected data by two independent methods, a continuously recording system, and by making selected audio recordings. The recorded data was correlated with the wind turbine operational performance, and local weather conditions. The correlated data was analyzed for tonality using international standard evaluation methods. The analysis confirmed over 84% correlation between complaints of irritating conditions, and tonality from 5 dB to over 20 dB. The research also identified deviation between the recommended method for assessing wind turbine tonality of an expert group panel for the industry and the method for compliance monitoring now prescribed by regulations. The deviation can incorrectly reduce tonality calculated to significantly below the actual tonality. Finally, the results showed that the assumption of the regulator to only require assessment of compliance when the resident was downwind of the nearest wind turbine was incorrect. Most complaints arose from other wind directions. Neither was the regulator’s assumption correct that curtailing the wind turbine operation to continue operating at only partially reduced outputs would give remediation. The research concludes that tonality arises consistent with the wind turbine operation, identifying a critical need to revise the practices to prevent chronic irritation.
William K.G. Palmer
Independent Researcher, TRI-LEA-EM, Paisley, Ontario, Canada
Journal of Energy Conservation, Volume 1, Issue 3. DOI: 10.14302/issn.2642-3146.jec-20-3359
Download original document: “Confirming Tonality at Residences Influenced by Wind Turbines”
Author: West, Michael
Despite their generally positive reputation as sources of clean, safe energy, Industrial Wind Turbines (IWTs) do have their critics. For years, residents living in the vicinity of IWT clusters have reported a variety of physical ailments which they attribute to the sounds and vibrations emanating from wind turbines (Kelley, 1985; CBC.ca, 2011). Noise bylaws, setback distances and other regulations applied to IWTs appear to be based on analysis methods used historically with industrial applications, where noise tends to be constant or semi-constant and in the audible range. The noise generated by IWTs is quite different – spiky and high amplitude – like an exploration seismic source pulse, and mainly found in low frequencies not detectable by human hearing (i.e. infrasound or “below hearing”). This article looks at the signals generated by IWTs from a geophysicist’s perspective. …
The analysis of the operating IWTs on the ground and the seismic and air-pulse recordings confirms that large horizontal axis Industrial Wind Turbines act like airgun seismic sources that create low frequency pulses approximately once per second. The audible part of the air pulse makes a sound like “whump” so, as per geophysical industry tradition, we should name the IWT a “whumper” seismic source (as opposed to a thumper or puffer which would require a faster rise-time on the pulse). Most of the amplitude of the pulse exists at frequencies below the audible range, so a person stopping by the roadside to listen to an IWT may not hear anything and is likely to think that they make no significant “noise” at all.
Two aspects of IWT-generated noise do not appear to have been adequately accounted for in the creation of regulations for the IWT industry: that the noise contains many spurious, high amplitude spikes, and that it is mainly found in the low, infrasonic frequencies. An impulsive noise source such as an IWT requires amplitude measurements over short time windows like 1 second and little or no averaging of data during analysis. Long analysis time windows and averaging amplitude over 1/3 octave band frequency ranges is an acoustics industry testing method appropriate only for higher frequency “whirring” machines like diesel generators or milling machines. Current Ontario Government regulations do not include testing frequencies lower than 31.5 Hz. “Noise” testing procedures for regulation of IWTs should be revised to include all low frequencies created by the IWTs because the low frequency events contain the most power and highest amplitudes.
Conversion of non-weighted peak pulse amplitudes from the microphone recording in Figure 9, at 550 meters offset in 20 kph winds including the full frequency range to 1 Hz, revealed peak Sound Pressure Levels of 65 dB or more. Additionally, the SPL noise limit specification should not be increased with increased wind speed as this makes no sense. Governments and agencies tasked with the regulation of IWT installations should review and revise their testing protocols, so that regulations that reliably protect the health of people and animals living in the vicinity of IWTs can be implemented.
Michael West, P. Geoph., B.Sc., GDM
Canadian Society of Exploration Geophysicists | Recorder, Jun 2019, Vol. 44, No. 04
Download original document: “The Industrial Wind Turbine Seismic Source”
Author: Palmer, William
Wind turbines are often perceived as benign. This can be attributed to the population majority dwelling in urban locations distant from most wind turbines. Society may understate the risk to individuals living near turbines due to an overstatement of the perceived benefits of turbines, and an understatement of the risk of injury from falling turbine parts, or shed ice. Flaws in risk calculation may be attributed to a less than fully developed safety culture. Indications of this are the lack of a comprehensive industry failure database, and safety limits enabling the industry growth, but not protective of the public. A comprehensive study of wind turbine failures and risks in the Canadian province of Ontario gives data to enable validation of existing failure models. Failure probabilities are calculated, to show risk on personal property, or in public spaces. Repeated failures, and inadequate safety separation show public safety is not currently assured. A method of calculating setbacks from wind turbines to mitigate public risk is shown. Wind turbines with inadequate setbacks can adversely impact public health both directly from physical risk and indirectly by irritation from loss of safe use of property. Physical public safety setbacks are separate from larger setbacks required to prevent irritation from noise and other stressors, particularly when applied to areas of learning, rest and recuperation. The insights provided by this paper can assist the industry to enhance its image and improve its operation, as well as helping regulators set safety guidelines assuring protection of the public.
William K.G. Palmer, Journal of Energy Conservation – 2018;1(1):41-78
Download original document: “Wind Turbine Public Safety Risk, Direct and Indirect Health Impacts”
Wind turbine low frequency and infrasound propagation and sound pressure level calculations at dwellings
Author: Keith, Stephen; et al.
This study was developed to estimate wind turbine low frequency and infrasound levels at 1238 dwellings in Health Canada’s Community Noise and Health Study. In field measurements, spectral peaks were identifiable for distances up to 10 km away from wind turbines at frequencies from 0.5 to 70 Hz. These measurements, combined with onsite meteorology, were in agreement with calculations using Parabolic Equation (PE) and Fast Field Program (FFP). Since onsite meteorology was not available for the Health Canada study, PE and FFP calculations used Harmonoise weather classes and field measurements of wind turbine infrasound to estimate yearly averaged sound pressure levels. For comparison, infrasound propagation was also estimated using ISO 9613-2 (1996) calculations for 63 Hz. In the Health Canada study, to a distance of 4.5 km, long term average FFP calculations were highly correlated with the ISO based calculations. This suggests that ISO 9613-2 (1996) could be an effective screening method. Both measurements and FFP calculations showed that beyond 1 km, ISO based calculations could underestimate sound pressure levels. FFP calculations would be recommended for large distances, when there are large numbers of wind turbines, or when investigating specific meteorological classes.
Stephen E. Keith, Non Ionizing Radiation Physical Sciences Division, Consumer & Clinical Radiation Protection Bureau, Environmental and Radiation Health Sciences Directorate, Health Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Gilles A. Daigle, Michael R. Stinson, MG Acoustics, Carlsbad Springs, Ontario, Canada
The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 144, 981 (2018); https://doi.org/10.1121/1.5051331
Download original document: “Wind turbine low frequency and infrasound propagation and sound pressure level calculations at dwellings”