How to Reduce Wind Farm Noise
For the UK to hit its net zero targets, more renewable forms of power generation need to be implemented.
Onshore wind can be an effective part of the energy mix; there are already more than 1500 wind farms across the country, contributing to 11% of the UK’s electricity needs. They’re relatively quick and easy to construct, cheap to run and more cost-effective to maintain than offshore wind.
But wind turbines aren’t perfect. Critics argue they create a blot on the landscape and generate noise and vibrations that have negative impacts on nearby communities.
How much noise? Compared to industrial facilities, such as manufacturing plants, they’re pretty quiet — studies suggest that the sound 350m from a wind farm is between 35-45 decibels. That’s less noise than you’d hear a car travelling at 40mph make from 100m away.
Here are the measures manufacturers have taken to mitigate wind turbine noise…
‘Upwind’ rotors make less noise
If a wind turbine’s rotors face away from the wind, the blades create an annoying ‘thumping’ sound every time they whoosh past the tower (it’s an effect caused by the tower’s ‘wind shadow’). To mitigate this, most turbines are now designed so that their rotors face the wind.
Both the towers and the blades are streamlined so there are no protruding features. This reduces any noise that is created by the wind passing the turbine.
Wind turbine blades are massive — some are more than 100 metres in diameter. While rotating, these generate a large force, which puts pressure on the gearbox and can cause vibrations. Buffer pads are fitted to separate the gearboxes from the blades, which cuts the risk of these vibrations producing noise. And the wheels within the gearbox are designed to flex slightly, which also helps to reduce unwanted sound.
The materials used to soundproof the blades, tower and mechanical components are now far more effective than when wind turbines were first used in the UK in the early 1990s.
Wind turbines have become far more efficient over the years, thanks to technological advancements and increased investment. The more efficient blades are, the more energy wind turbines generate — and the less noise they produce.
If you’re looking for noise control solutions for manufacturing, industrial equipment, power generation or power distribution, contact our specialist team to find out how we can help.