There has long been controversy over the noise produced by wind turbines, up against their benefits to the environment as an alternative source of energy production.
University of Adelaide researchers are now attempting to find out exactly how wind turbines produce noise, which should subsequently mean better designed wind farms, improved public policy and new noise control technologies.
There are claims wind farms have detrimental effects on the health of those living in close proximity due to the low-frequency noise they can emit, including pulsing and the effect they have on sleep, with claims of sleep deprivation caused by turbines.
Chief Investigator Associate Professor Con Doolan says that despite the attention paid to wind farm noise in recent years, there remain large question marks over the sources of noise, particularly in the low-frequency range which seems to be most significant.
“This project is aimed at getting to the bottom of what is creating the noise that can cause disturbance,” Associate Professor Doolan said.
“When we know what is contributing most to that noise – exactly what’s causing it – then we can stop it.”
This three-year study comes at a critical time for South Australia as a 199-turbine wind farm is planned for Yorke Peninsula.
The turbines would produce up to 600MW of electricity which would be enough to power 225,000 homes.
Associate Professor Doolan said the university’s study would be the most sophisticated wind turbine noise experiment in the world.