Wind farm noise
Wind turbines produce very low noise levels, comparable with the levels found inside a typical living-room or in a quiet, air-conditioned office.
When the wind is blowing, the noise level of the wind turbine is masked by the sound of the wind itself; when the wind isn't blowing, the turbines will not be moving and thus sit silently in the landscape.
The sound level produced by typical wind farms is so low that it would not be noticeable in most residential areas. You can hold a conversation at the base of a wind turbine without having to raise your voice. However, the areas suitable for such developments can be in quiet but exposed areas of the countryside. A significant amount of effort is therefore put into minimising the sound.
Virtually everything with moving parts generates sound, but technical advances have greatly reduced noise levels from wind turbines.
- The turbine blades passing through the air generate sound. This aerodynamic sound is minimised by careful attention to the design and manufacture of the blades.
- The sound made by the gearbox and generator is minimised through efficient engineering. Some turbine manufacturers have removed the need for a gearbox altogether.
- Any remaining noise is contained within the nacelle by sound insulation and isolation materials.
Measured noise levels of approximately 50dB(A) are expected at the base of a modern turbine, equivalent to noise levels in a typical office environment.
However, in order to minimise noise related impacts to local residents, it is recommended that wind turbine noise, generally does not exceed 5 dB(A) above the background noise at the nearest noise sensitive location.