Major study finds no link between turbine ‘noise’ and harm

Source: By ReNews • Posted: Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Researchers could not prove connection between low frequency sound and psychological or physical impacts

Major study finds no link between turbine ‘noise’ and harm

A joint academic project in Germany has not been able to establish a link between low-frequency sound from wind turbines and negative impacts perceived by nearby residents.

The “Objective criteria for vibration and sound emissions of onshore wind turbines” (TremAc) researchers investigated the effects of low frequency sound (infrasound) and ground vibrations (seismic waves).

In the study, which was funded by the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy, the researchers could not “plausibly prove” a connection between acoustic or seismic waves and physical or psychological complaints.

The Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, the University of Stuttgart, the Technical University of Munich, the University of Bielefeld, the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg and the company Mesh Engineering participated as project partners.

In 2018, the cluster carried out research at the Wilstedt wind farm near Bremen, analysing effects on acceptance, well-being and health of local residents.

For the study, residents near the Wilstedt wind farm and the Ingersheim wind turbine were interviewed.

The symptoms expressed could only be traced back subjectively to the operation of a wind turbine.

“The low-frequency sound amplitudes that could be attributed to the turbine operation were extremely low”, said Johannes Pohl, psychologist at the Institute for Psychology of the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg.

Pohl added: “And the measured ground vibration velocities also showed amplitudes that were many times below the human perceptibility limit.

“This makes it unlikely that these types of waves could trigger stress effects or be a reason for perceived annoyances.”

Enercon supported the study as the turbine supplier and WPD Windmanager as the operating manager of Wilstedt wind farm.

Pohl said: “The results of the TremAc study could be ground-breaking for wind energy in Germany because they contribute to an objectification of the discussion about ground vibrations and infrasound.

“However, further research will be necessary for this – on the one hand to create an even more wind farm-specific database and on the other hand to better understand the physical and psychological factors that can contribute to nuisance.”