Collecting Data on Wind Turbine Sound to Identify Causes of Identified Concerns

or Wind Turbine Noise - Clues to the Mystery of Why People are Hurting

William K.G. (Bill) Palmer P. Eng.
TRI-LEA-EM, RR 5, Paisley, ON N0G 2N0 Canada Presented to the Acoustical Society of America - 161st Meeting

Outline of Presentation
‡ People are hurting, but why? ‡ This paper describes a method for collection of reliable data at wind turbine ³approved locations´ where sound level is predicted to not exceed 40 dBA for wind speeds up to 6m/s and at ³control locations´ 2 to 10 times the Ontario ³approved´ distance of 550 metres (1800 ft or 0.34 of a mile) ‡ Analysis of the data suggests causes for the hurt, and ongoing investigation shows evidence continues to illuminate the ³truth´

Data Collection
‡ Readings taken at a series of locations (10 km radius from centre) within 2 hour window ‡ Same terrain, same general proximity to forested areas, same weather, fundamentally same wind speed. Difference is proximity of turbines. ‡ Recorded time, wind speed, turbine output (IESO), weather conditions (wind direction, pressure, temperature), dBA and dBC sound levels. ‡ Performed a minimum 30 second digital recording using M-Audio output to Audacity program on iBook G4 at 44,100 Hz sample rate ‡ Over 250 samples taken in all seasons, from March 2010 to March 2011 (and continuing)

Typical Monitoring Setup

Data Processing
‡ Listen to ensure no extraneous sources of noise (road traffic, birds, dogs, wind)

‡ Plot Spectrum (Hanning Window) using FFT Analysis of 30 second window using Audacity, into 16,384 bins from 2.6 to 22 k Hz

Plot FFT Analysis & Export

Background - No Turbines Operating

No Turbines - A&C Weighting Only

Turbines Operating - Low Power

Octave Analysis - Turbines Low Power

Comparing No Turbine Case to Case with Turbines at 0%
‡ No turbine case shows all monitoring sites closely match each other except for explainable differences (flies, birds, road traffic) ‡ Case with turbines just connected to grid but at very low power shows sound level increases at ³approved´ locations by 15 to 20 dB at all octaves up to 1000 Hz compared to mean base case. Overall dBA at control location unchanged (or decreased) while at approved location increases over 15 dB. ‡ Only at octaves of 4000 and 8000 Hz is situation relatively unchanged

Turbines at 25% Output

Octave Analysis - Turbines 25%

Turbines at 88% Output

Octave Analysis - Turbines 88%

Observations from Comparisons
‡ With wind speed at 8m/s (Beaufort Force 5, fresh breeze) dBA sound level at ³control location´ rises to be roughly the same at at ³approved locations´ when wind speed there is 1m/s, and turbines still at 0% output. ‡ Meantime, at ³approved locations´ sound level under these conditions has increased by 25 to 30 dB at all octaves up to 1000 Hz. ‡ Even at zero power, C weighted sound at ³approved locations´ is 60 dBC, while ³control location is about 44 dBC and 32 dBA (¨ 28dB) ‡ At high power, C weighted sound at ³approved locations´ is 75 dBC, while ³control location´ is about 55 dBC and 41 dBA (¨ 34dB)

Shifting Frequency in ³Modulation´
‡ At the 4th International Wind Turbine Noise meeting in Rome, in April, several presenters (Carlo di Napoli & Sidney Xue) identified that dominant frequency as well as sound level can change from low to high (or vice versa) as angle of attack changes from wind impinging on the blade. They suggested this can occur from microclimate wind shifts, or from change in speed across the rotor due to wind shear ‡ Review of the data shows this evidence can be detected, which increases the audible pattern of the turbine - just like variable frequency police sirens are used to increase recognition and response instead of a steady horn

Effect of Modulation - Frequency Shifts

Review of Proponent Monitoring
‡ Resident had complained of noise at night, unable to sleep, other adverse impacts ‡ Acoustical consultant gathered over 150 days of data. Report looked at ³high noise conditions´ identified road noise, birds, wind sound, and lawnmower, but could not detect wind turbines. ‡ Lawnmowers at night? Let¶s look again. Chose midnight readings, sorted by Leq. ‡ Eliminated ~ 40 days with Leq > L90 by more than 6 dB, indicative of traffic, or other transient

Proponent Monitoring

SMI Nov 20¶10 0450

Calculator 53.4 dBA, 66.9 dBC Meter says 43 dBA 3 m/s @2.5m

CSK - May 21¶10 0411
Note Cyclic Pattern - Dishwasher?

Calculator 42 dBA, 54.1 dBC Meter says 37.5 dBA, 52.1 dBC 1.5 m/s @2.5 m

SCH Feb 15¶11 2351
Closest Turbine Shutdown

Calculator 45.1 dBA, 58.7 dBC Meter says 41.5 to 45 dBA 0.5 m/s @2.5 m

‡ projecting simple dBA sound levels from wind turbines and performing dBA auditing of sound levels does not protect citizens ‡ a simple, repeatable method of monitoring sound and performing octave band analysis has been demonstrated, which identifies special characteristics of wind turbine sound
± ³approved locations´ are 15 to 20 dB above ³control locations´ for all octaves up to 2000 Hz under all conditions - calm or stormy, when wind turbines operating ± cyclical sound pattern and frequency shift makes turbines particularly noticeable

‡ John Coulter for loan of Knowles microphone and M-Audio Fast Track USB interface ‡ Werner Richarz for Excel octave band calculator ‡ Carlo di Napoli and Sidney Xue for raising frequency shift as an issue ‡ George Kamperman, Rick James, and Harvey Wrightman for review and comments on draft ‡ The people suffering effects of wind turbines who permitted recordings taken at their homes (CS, VS, NS, JH, HF, JT, GB, SJ, KA, TW and others) ‡ The encouragement of countless friends and those suffering from the effects of wind turbines

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