Wind Turbine “noise” No Biggie for Germans. Why?

May 6, 2013

If wind turbines were as “bad” for you as windbaggers in the US would like you to believe, there should be a lot of body bags piling up in places like Germany, Denmark, and, well, Iowa – places that have large penetration by wind generated electricity. Or at least, one would think, there’d be an increased incidence in the headaches-to leukemia-to-herpes complex of symptoms that the looney right has identified as part of “wind turbine syndrome”. But of course, there is not.


The answer of course, is, that Germany does not have the highly funded, focused and professional anti-wind disinformation machine that has been launched here in the US.

We know who they are, we  have their memos and strategy.


A network of ultra-conservative groups is ramping up an offensive on multiple fronts to turn the American public against wind farms and Barack Obama‘s energy agenda.

A number of rightwing organisations, including Americans for Prosperity, which is funded by the billionaire Koch brothers, are attacking Obama for his support for solar and wind power. The American Legislative Exchange Council (Alec), which also has financial links to the Kochs, has drafted bills to overturn state laws promoting wind energy.

Now a confidential strategy memo seen by the Guardian advises using “subversion” to build a national movement of wind farm protesters.

The strategy proposal was prepared by a fellow of the American Tradition Institute (ATI) – although the thinktank has formally disavowed the project.

The proposal was discussed at a meeting of self-styled ‘wind warriors’ from across the country in Washington DC last February.

Among the action items included in the memo:

Cause subversion in message of industry so that it effectively becomes so bad no one wants to admit in public they are for it (much like wind has done to coal, by turning green to black and clean to dirty)

Setup a dummy business that will go into communities considering wind development, proposing to build 400 foot billboards.

The message is also repeated in Wash Times, WSJ, Fox and other sources.

Public opinion must begin to change in what should appear as a “groundswell” among  grass roots.

So, next time you see or hear about one of these “grassroots” groups “concerned” about the effects of wind energy, remember that the template for this “movement” was created in right wing think tanks fueled by the Koch brothers and other fossil fuel friendly funders.  A  small, elite group of right wing operatives control the message and the strategy, while many if not most of the of those who are active locally may well be simply paranoid-and-misinformed-but-otherwise innocent tea party loons who are so far down the chain, they don’t even know who is writing their script.

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50 Responses to “Wind Turbine “noise” No Biggie for Germans. Why?”

  1. 4TimesAYear Says:

    Right. Tell this to the people who get seizures and migraines from the flicker.

    • MorinMoss Says:

      What has been told to the millions who’ve suffered and died because of coal?

    • livinginabox Says:

      “Tell this to the people who get seizures and migraines from the flicker.”

      Naturally you have numerous scientific studies to back-up these vague claims.

      Why don’t you cite your evidence?

      • Kevon Martis Says:


        “We’re often hearing these weird and wacky reports on the effects of wind. It seems anyone can stand up and say anything, which we find somewhat worrying because it gives a false impression. We don’t accept the suggestion that there are any health impacts caused by wind turbine noise, though we welcome any new research into the issue,” a spokesman for Renewable UK told me.
        However this is contradicted by the author of the original reports Neil Kelley. Kelley has told Graham Lloyd – the environment editor from The Australian who (uncharacteristically for an environment editor puts truth before green ideology) broke the story – that research has shown that it is still possible for modern wind turbines to create “community annoyance.”
        Kelley, who served as the principal scientist (atmospheric physics) at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s National Wind Technology Centre from 1980 to 2011, told Lloyd:
        “Many of the complaints I have heard described are very similar to those from residents who were exposed to the prototype wind turbine we studied.”
        He said the original research was performed to understand the “totally unexpected community complaints from a 2MW downwind prototype wind turbine.”
        He said: “While follow-on turbine designs moved the rotors upwind of the tower, the US Department of Energy funded an extensive multi-year research effort in order to develop a full understanding of what created this situation.”
        “Their goal was to make such knowledge available to the turbine engineers so they could minimise the possibility of future designs repeating the experience. We found the majority of the physics responsible for creating the annoyance associated with this downwind prototype are applicable to large upwind machines.”
        The wind industry has resisted demands from campaigners to investigate this problem further. For example, in Australia, Lloyd reports, the wind turbine manufacturer Vestas has argued in a submission to the NSW government that low frequency noise not be measured.
        But as Kelley said to Lloyd, if low frequency noise from turbines does not influence annoyance within homes, “then why should [the industry] be concerned?”
        Those readers with an appetite for even more technical detail may be interested in the views of acoustics expert Dr Malcolm Swinbanks:
        The important aspect to understand is that the old-fashioned downwind rotor-turbines did indeed generate a wider spectrum of infranoise and low-frequency noise, extending from 1Hz to 50Hz or 60Hz. Modern upwind rotor turbines are definitely very much quieter in the 32 and 64 Hz octave bands, but under some circumstances they can be similarly noisy over the frequency range 1Hz – 10Hz.
        The wind industry denies this aspect, namely that they do not generate impulsive infrasound – I was present at a public meeting, with 400 farmers enthusiastically wanting wind-turbines on their land, when a wind-industry representative argued that I was incorrect to quote NASA research because the NASA research related only to downwind turbines. In fact NASA led the world in developing upwind rotor turbines, with the first, MOD-2 in 1981. They were fully aware of the differences between downwind and upwind configurations as long ago as 1981. Although upwind turbines are indeed quieter in respect of audible sound, NASA was well aware that inflow turbulence or wind-shear could give rise to enhanced infrasound from upwind turbines.
        In the context of that particular public meeting, the chairman refused to let me respond at that time to correct the wind-industry presentation, and argued that I could only send a letter to the Planning Committee, which I duly did under strong protest. So I have encountered the wind-industry position directly at first hand.
        The problem is that while the acoustics community fully acknowledge that the audible component of low-frequency sound (>20Hz) can cause adverse human reaction, they consistently deny that infrasound (<20Hz) can cause similar effects unless it is "above" the threshold of hearing. Yet there is at least one reported laboratory experiment (Chen et al, 2004) which showed that infrasound 10dB below the hearing threshold caused adverse psychological and physiological effects after 1 hour exposure. This particular test signal was a tone 110dB at 2.14Hz, where the threshold is around 120dB. So infrasonic sound pressure levels "below" the threshold of hearing have indeed been shown to cause adverse effects.
        The response of the Australian Senate Inquiry to this information was that wind-turbines don't generate 110dB. But just as sound pressure levels are always weighted in the audible frequency range, using the dBA scale – one does not quote absolute sound pressure levels, but dBA levels, so the infrasound range is correctly measured using the weighted dBG scale. This is an ISO internationally approved scale, and 110dB at 2.14Hz represents 82 dBG on the dBG scale. Modern wind turbine peak infrasonic impulsive levels have been measured as high as 76-80dBG, which is only marginally below the 82dBG level that was found to cause adverse effects in the Chen laboratory tests.
        It is notable that when some acousticians wish to argue that wind turbine infrasound is not a problem, they quote known problematic infrasonic sound levels using the unweighted decibel dB scale, which makes these levels seem well "out-of-reach" of wind turbine infrasound levels. Yet these same acousticians would not dream of using absolute sound pressure levels to evaluate conventional audible sound, but will always quote correctly weighted dBA levels.
        Thus, for example, the Chen infrasonic tests were at 110dB at 2.14Hz. This is 82dBG. In contrast, a "child-on-a swing" is also quoted by some acousticians as "not-a-problem", when it is experiencing 110dB. This 110dB is at around 0.5Hz, so the corresponding dBG level is only 50dBG. Although the absolute sound pressure levels are identical, the perceived infrasound levels in these two cases are very different and cannot be equated to each other.
        So I am unimpressed by the casual practice of quoting absolute sound pressure levels for describing infrasound, in order to exaggerate differences, when it is well recognized that the response of the ear is not uniform, and weighted sound pressure levels should be used for describing the likely hearing response.
        This feature is responsible for much of the confusion that arises – interchange of unweighted and weighted levels can lead to very different conclusions – a situation which does not help to clarify the overall impact of infrasound.
        It is noteworthy that some recent research indicates that at the very lowest frequencies (around ~1Hz) infrasound may be perceived by a different, separate mechanism than the ear's conventional auditory mechanisms, so that at these frequencies, the G-weighting may no longer be accurate. But this is only a very recent deduction. Wind turbines undoubtedly generate their strongest signals at around 1Hz, so this is a new area of investigation which may also reveal additional adverse effects.

        • livinginabox Says:

          So nothing relevant to modern turbines. I ignored all that other BS, because it’s copy pasted from the Telegraph newspaper, isn’t peer-reviewed, therefore it’s irrelevant.

          • Kevon Martis Says:

            The Telegraph article quotes the author of the original study at length and he states that the modern turbines can have the very same effect.

            But since Peter Sinclair’s article above is not peer reviewed either, I am curious why you find IT relevant?

          • greenman3610 Says:

            Yo Kev
            “2MW downwind prototype wind turbine.”
            He said: “While follow-on turbine designs moved the rotors upwind of the tower,”

            in other words, we don’t make them that way any more, and no study has in fact, shown any similar effect. (although it “could”. Like I “could” be kidnapped by a flying saucer today. Technically, I can’t rule it out.)
            You really can’t tell the difference between propaganda and a factual study, do you?
            Here’s a clue – if the piece contains the phrase – “(uncharacteristically for an environment editor puts truth before green ideology)” –
            it’s probably a denialist screed, and the credibility diminishes. Please review current events and consider the disadvantages of believing your own echo chamber.

            But thanks, anyway, for firming up your credentials and clarifying your intentions.
            Post anytime, just keep it clean, and a little briefer, ok?

        • livinginabox Says:

          By copy pasting from an article by known disinformer, you destroyed any possibility of being treated as a trust-worthy source. What possible purpose would be served by communicating with a deceiver?

      • 4TimesAYear Says:

        The very tests they do to determine one gets migraines or has seizures includes a “flicker” test. Flashing lights are a serious problem for people with migraines and seizures. Fluorescent bulbs, which have “flicker” are known to cause migraines. People who have these conditions are already known to be sensitive to this kind of thing. Why don’t you go do some medical research?

      • 4TimesAYear Says:

        Oh heavens, if someone has to cite a paper to prove something, we are far gone. It is a well known fact that people with migraines and epilepsy have problems with flickering light. Even normal people can’t stand a flickering fluorescent bulb for long. Go google it yourself.

        • But should they ban trees along the roads as well then? When the sun shines through them as you drive pass you can easily get flickers of the same kind.

          • 4TimesAYear Says:

            They have in many places simply because they are a traffic hazard. Check your local highways and interstates. Trees also aren’t anywhere near as large as wind turbines and cast a lot shorter shadow.

          • 4TimesAYear Says:

            They stopped planting trees along highways here as they are considered a traffic hazard. And yes you get flickers of the same kind when walking along paths under trees. I’ve picked up many a migraine that way.

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