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.


57 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?

      • Mick Fidel Says:

        Coal is its own, longstanding problem. Wind turbines are the new bully on the block, so why do you shills change the subject? Because you’re shills, of course.

        • dumboldguy Says:

          Is this the Mike Fidel of BHP Billiton of AUS (the world’s largest “rape the planet for profit” mining company?)

          Here on Crock trying to talk down wind power so that coal can make a comeback? Are you and your company the ones who pay Alec to spew his anti wind power BS? (Or have they let you go and you’re now an embittered coal cast-off that trolls climate sites for fun?)

    • 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:

        Click to access 1166.pdf


        “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.

          • Alec Sevins Says:

            What an absurd slippery slope argument that is! You really think wind turbines are no different that natural trees? People in moving cars expect there to be flicker, and they know it will go away as roadside features change. It’s much different when you’re sitting in a house and expect constant stillness.

            Defenders of wind turbines use a striking amount of convoluted logic, just like the global warming deniers they claim to be superior to. It’s maddening to read such mindless comments. Surely some distant corridor of your mind can comprehend that gigantic towers in rural areas will have a major impact? And wind turbines aren’t even pragmatic in terms of power generation, with intermittent output and the need for 24/7 backup power.

            Below are some of the better quotes from an extensive list at Wind-Watch. The implication that all these people are lying is no less stupid than claiming Micheal Mann rigged the Hockey Stick.

            “What is so menacing is the regularity and the scope of the noise, which feels like a giant heartbeat shaking the earth.” — Harry Mount, Daily Mail (U.K.), March 10, 2007

            “It is peak pulsing noise levels that matter – not averages – especially at night time when people are trying to sleep.” — Mary Morris, Australia

            “What industrial wind represents should be obvious to everyone: this is business-as-usual disguised as concern for the Earth. Far from genuine environmentalism, it is the same profit- and growth-driven destruction that is at the root of every ecological crisis we face.” — Suzanna Jones, Vt., The Eagle, Feb. 6, 2013

            “The pursuit of large-scale, ridgeline wind power in Vermont represents a terrible error of vision and planning and a misunderstanding of what a responsible society must do to slow the warming of our planet. It also represents a profound failure to understand the value of our landscape to our souls and our economic future in Vermont.” — Steve E. Wright, “The Not So Green Mountains”, New York Times, Sept. 29, 2011

            “Looking at the ridge lines, you’re looking at the same thing Ethan Allen and those people looked at. We’ve worked hard to keep billboards off the side of the roads. You can’t put up a billboard but you can put up a 400-foot tower? It doesn’t make sense.” — Michael Klopchin, Select Board Chairman, Clarendon, Vt.

            “When I first saw the so-out-of-place wind turbines and their Vegas-style strobe lights on the once quiet and majestic ridges of my eastern Oregon childhood home, I cried.” — Lynne Stone, Oregon

  2. Alec Sevins Says:

    This so-called “green” author refuses to accept the blatant intrusion of gigantic towers in formerly peaceful rural areas. It is large-scale industrialization no matter how you spin it or vilify its critics as propagandists. Mr. Green seems to think only climate deniers have respect for aesthetically pleasing, historical landscapes. He has deliberately forgotten a basic tenet of environmentalism; to protect nature from physical man-made intrusions. I could segue into the whole topic of cutting down trees and blasting mountain ridges. Carbon reduction is not the sole purpose of environmental protection!

    There are plenty of noise complaints in Germany (e.g. articles by Frits van den Berg) though they seem to be more intelligent about noise prevention than some other countries. But noise is only part of wind turbine blight. The visual intrusion can never be ignored and one must focus on the whole picture instead of cherry-picking an issue at a time and hoping the rest is forgotten.

    Look what they did to an ancient, nearly pristine mountain ridge in Maine (Mars Hill). How can anyone welcome more and more of that vandalism and claim that they care about the Earth? It is cognitive dissonance beyond my comprehension.

  3. Mick Fidel Says:

    Good intro to pro-wind lies and denial:

    National Wind Power Fraud Rally: Annie Gardner

    See related videos for a bunch of background on the industry’s lies. You literally have to be blind and deaf so see and hear no impact from such large machines. People who promote them are as sleazy as frackers and all the rest.

    • dumboldguy Says:

      Mick, it’s YOU that literally has to be blind and deaf and STOOOPID to say the “impact” from wind turbines has a bigger impact than using fossil fuels. You can always take down a wind turbine—-strip mining coal, mountain top removal mining, waste from burning coal, damage to water sources from fracking, and the CO2 that’s going to be around for centuries are not as easily fixed. People like you who spread such BS are the sleaziest folks on the planet.

      Same goes for Alec—-always screaming about the VISUAL impact of turbines without any concern for GHG and AGW.

  4. Here’s a must-watch video for a reality-check on Germany: Der Kampf um die Windräder aka Wind Turbine Battle: (English CC)

    Germany has killed its countryside and historic character with machines on an absurd scale. They’re dealing with crony capitalism for subsidies and have built far more turbines than actually needed. They’ve had mediocre CO2 reductions that don’t begin to compensate for loss of aesthetics. Wind companies hire shills for support at rallies but the public is nonplussed overall. It’s a complete lie to claim that most Germans are happy with massive, noisy towers all over the place.

    The same issues are happening in other parts of Europe and America if you bother to read anything beyond pro-wind propaganda. Germany is about 4/5ths the size of California and has about 30,000 turbines vs. the 57,000+ in America so far. The U.S. just has relatively more land to play with until critical blight is reached, but millions of acres of views have already been tainted here.

    You see these colossal machines from great distances and they affect the whole environmental experience of a region, not just where they’re planted (sometimes 40,000 acres per project). It’s especially bad when you climb a mountain and they look like vast forests of dead, bleached trees creeping inward toward the last remnants of wilderness.

    This “Greenman” character is a blatant shill for wind power and shows no concern for the obvious blight of these HUGE, SPRAWLING projects. Scenery matters and wind turbines are the biggest threat to it now. If you don’t care about natural scenery you don’t really care about nature. AGW is not the only environmental problem in the galaxy. Wind power will never solve it, so why promote such widespread ruination? (WordPress)

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