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AEI Wind Turbine Noise Report Now Downloadable

Health, Human impacts, Wind turbines Add comments

The Klondike Wind Rush is underway, and while wind energy is a crucial wedge in the emerging renewable energy mix, some nearby neighbors of wind farms are reporting noise levels that are higher and more disruptive than they’d been led to expect.  Simple noise models suggest noise should be inaudible beyond a quarter mile or so, but residents between a half mile and mile are quite often finding the noise intolerable.  What is going on?  This question is just the sort of thing we love here at AEI: a chance to dig in and get a big-picture view that moves beyond the strident and self-assured voices of advocacy groups on both sides of an issue.  The result, published online in March 2008, was the AEI Special Report: Wind Turbine Noise Impacts.

This report is now available as a downloadable, printable document.  Running to 30 pages in the pdf format, the report provides a comprehensive overview of issues being addressed by local planning commissions as wind energy companies seek new sites for this piece of our energy future.  We’ve also put together an 8-page pdf version that is useful as a quick overview for the public and local officials.  

See for the full online report (continually updated), along with links to download the 30-page and 8-page pdfs.

About 20% of wind farms generate noise complaints, and during the current boom of new wind development, it’s important to do our best to avoid spurring a generation of disgruntled neighbors; poor siting decisions now could impede the continued expansion of wind power in the decades to come, when turbines are likely to become quieter and less obtrusive.  It appears that nighttime atmospheric stability is a major cause of noise problems, though there are also topographic situations (especially ridge-top turbines creating excessive noise in wind-sheltered fields below) and low-frequency noise issues that can crop up in some situations.  

AEI’s Special Report includes an introduction to the issue, a look at the noise levels that wind farms are designed to create, overviews of recent research into specific problematic noise conditions, reports from neighbors, emerging technologies that may reduce noise levels, an annotated list of research reports and other in-depth source material, and links to industry, government, and advocacy groups addressing wind energy development.

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