A Tale of Two (more) Studies

Published by the Victorian Wind Alliance

If there are two things about wind farms that we know from decades of experience both here and overseas, it’s that wind is quiet and having more wind in the grid reduces the cost of power.

It’s a source of constant frustration that when opponents of wind try to argue that the opposite is the case, they routinely ignore the wads of credible research that exist if that research doesn’t suit their argument. People living in wind communities deserve better treatment than this and deserve to have access to real information.

Two reports that provide just that kind of information were released recently. Continue reading “A Tale of Two (more) Studies”

A night under the Waterloo Wind Farm turbines

ImageOn the night of May 28, Mark Parnell (Greens MP for SA), Daniel Spencer, Leonora Herweijer and I (the latter three all being participants in the Walk for Solar Power – Port Augusta to Adelaide, September 2012) slept under the turbines at Waterloo wind farm.

Mark had a meeting with some people who objected to the Waterloo wind farm in the afternoon before the sleep-over.  I believe he visited one or more of the houses that the wind farm opponents claim have been abandoned due to noise from the turbines.

Mark is more generous than I am in that he keeps a very open mind to the claims by the opponents.  After having visited the township of Waterloo around ten times, listening for noise from the turbines and hearing nothing, I’m more inclined to think that the opponents are suffering from over-active imaginations.

Getting back to the night beneath the turbines, it was quite breezy, with the turbines operating all night and averaging about 60% of their 3MW installed capacity in the early hours of the morning.  At this time the sound that I was hearing was very similar to the sound that would be heard from a considerably stronger wind and no turbines, or the sound of heavy surf on a beach.

Of course we all had a good night’s sleep. Mark’s tent partly blew down – a windy ridge is not an ideal camp site.  I hardly need say that none of us suffered any ill effects from the experience. Continue reading “A night under the Waterloo Wind Farm turbines”

Vic Dept of Health gives wind farms a clean bill of health

Published by VicWind. View the original article.

A new Victorian Department of Health review gives wind farms the tick of approval when it comes to public health.

Screen Shot 2013-05-08 at 1.51.44 PMThe Department of Health review investigated the potential for infrasound to adversely affect human health. The review supports the findings of existing studies, yet peer-reviewed evidence dismissing such concerns hasn’t stopped anti-wind farm campaigners who frequently claim inaudible sound from wind turbines causes wide array of health problems.

The latest review concludes “there is no evidence that sound which is at inaudible levels can have a physiological effect on the human body.”

As it turns out, infrasound is not something new to human experience. “[T]here are many sources of infrasound in the environment and it is even produced by the human body, at much greater levels than infrasound from external sources such as wind farms,” the review notes. “Humans have been exposed to high levels of infrasound throughout our evolution, with no apparent effects.” Continue reading “Vic Dept of Health gives wind farms a clean bill of health”

Pollie Watch: Victorian Senator says ‘misinformation’ causes harm not wind turbines

Victorian Senator Richard Di Natale of the Australian Greens has defended the role of science in policymaking during the debate on the Renewable Energy (Electricity) Amendment (Excessive Noise from Wind Farms) Bill. Yesterday morning, the Australian Senate was considering the request … Continue reading Pollie Watch: Victorian Senator says ‘misinformation’ causes harm not wind turbines

Where is the truth in the infrasound debate?

Question markUPDATE, Feb 27. We have now had 2 editions of the Weekend Australian, without the letter being published.

Even the most charitable person could be forgiven for drawing the conclusion that neither the paper or the journalist have the slightest interest in providing balance on this issue.

The Australian Acoustical Society provides a source of expertise in acoustics to the public, private corporations, small business, the legal system, standards organisations and government. Any reasonable person could be forgiven for thinking they may have something to contribute on the matter of infrasound and noise.

Apparently the Australian does not share this opinion.

Graham Lloyd, the environment editor of The Australian, has his work cut out for him. On the one hand, the paper has a clear line which it runs against climate science and renewable energy. On the other hand, all the science, economics and social research shows that renewables are winners and climate change is real.

As a person I have good regard for Graham and his motivations as a journalist. Faced with the need to provide balanced coverage for a paper with such clear political agendas, I ask myself, what’s a good man to do?

Sometimes, it would seem that he doesn’t even get a chance to make the right call. Take the case of ‘infrasound sickness’, which is the most exciting scare-mongering concept of the Landscape Guardians /  Waubra Foundation. Continue reading “Where is the truth in the infrasound debate?”

Anti-wind farm campaigner’s infrasound argument crumbles

Screen shot 2013-02-06 at 10.52.38 AMThe Environmental Protection Authority of South Australia’s report on wind farm infrasound released last week (February 1) has gained considerable media coverage, and has led to an embarrassing media performance by anti-wind farm spokesperson Sarah Laurie.

For years, opponents of wind energy have maintained that wind farms increase infrasound and that this infrasound causes adverse health impacts for humans and animals. Now, both of these assertions have been exposed as false.

Before looking at the aforementioned embarrassing performance, let’s look at what the SA EPA’s research tell us. The EPA commissioned independent acousticians to compare the infrasound experienced by houses in urban and rural settings as well as those situated near wind farms. The study concluded “the level of infrasound at houses near the wind turbines assessed is no greater than that experienced in other urban and rural environments, and is also significantly below the human perception threshold”  (2013:41).

Among the media coverage of the EPA report, I’d like to point Yes 2 Renewables readers to ABC Radio National’s thorough story that contains an interesting interview between journalist, Timothy MCDonald, and well-known anti-wind farm campaigner, Sarah Laurie. The exchange reveals the weakness of the claim wind farm infrasound causes adverse health impacts.

Here’s the transcript:  Continue reading “Anti-wind farm campaigner’s infrasound argument crumbles”

Wind farm infrasound ‘significantly below the human perception threshold’, EPA Report

EPA_South Australia 80The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) South Australia has released an important independent report on wind farm infrasound. The EPA commissioned Resonate Acoustics to conduct a comparative study into the level of infrasound in urban, rural, and wind farm environments.

The field research reveals infrasound from wind farms is not above levels typically experienced in urban and rural settings, and in some cases was found to be lower. This finding quashes the claim of anti-wind campaigners that farms increase infrasound and further undermines the unfounded argument that wind farm infrasound causes adverse health impacts.

Here are some excerpts from the reportInfrasound levels near windfarms and in other environments: Continue reading “Wind farm infrasound ‘significantly below the human perception threshold’, EPA Report”

Wind turbine infrasound: What’s all the noise about?

Originally published at RenewEconomy.

By Richard Mackie.

REOn Wednesday the Senate inquiry into excessive noise from wind farms released their report. The inquiry was supposed to focus on audible noise but debate strayed into concerns that wind turbines can cause health problems by producing infrasound (sound of a frequency so low that it is normally inaudible) and low frequency noise.

Wind farm opposition groups such as the Waubra Foundation are prone to making extreme statements about wind turbines such as this from their senate inquiry submission “…characteristic symptom patterns have been reported at distances up 10km away from the nearest wind turbine.” Infrasound is blamed and understandably people get concerned.

So where does this idea come from? The Senate inquiry gives us the answers. Submissions represent a global who’s who in the debate on wind farms and health. Often information provided to support the wind farms-cause-health-problems idea actually demonstrates the opposite. Continue reading “Wind turbine infrasound: What’s all the noise about?”