Cohocton Wind Watch: 'Anti-noise' Silences Wind Turbines
Cohocton Wind Watch is a community citizen organization dedicated to preserve the public safety, property values, economic viability, environmental integrity and quality of life in Cohocton, NY and in surrounding townships. Neighbors committed to public service in order to achieve a reasonable vision for a Finger Lakes region worthy of future generations.


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Monday, August 11, 2008

'Anti-noise' Silences Wind Turbines

If wind energy converters are located anywhere near a residential area, they must never become too noisy even in high winds. Most such power units try to go easy on their neighbors’ ears, but even the most careful design cannot prevent noise from arising at times: One source is the motion of the rotor blades, another is the cogwheels that produce vibrations in the gearbox. These are relayed to the tower of the wind turbine, where they are emitted across a wide area – and what the residents hear is a humming noise.

“People find these monotone sounds particularly unpleasant, rather like the whining of a mosquito,” says André Illgen, a research associate at the Fraunhofer Institute for Machine Tools and Forming Technology IWU in Dresden. If the wind energy converters hum too loudly, they are only permitted to operate under partial load: They rotate at a slower speed and generate less electricity. In some cases the operators have to install additional damping systems or even replace the gearbox – an expensive business.

However, the effectiveness of the passive damping systems used until now is somewhat limited: They only absorb noise at a certain frequency. Since modern wind energy converters adapt their rotational speed to the wind velocity in order to generate as much electricity as possible, however, the frequency of the humming sound also varies. Despite noise attenuation measures, humming noises penetrate the surrounding area.

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