Distance and attitudes influence the disruptiveness of noise from wind power plants

Based on research carried out at Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT), there are differences in the way people from different research regions feel about the disruptiveness of noise from wind power plants, which carries indoors. Factors that influence the disruptiveness of the noise included distance from the wind power plant and the respondent's attitude toward wind power.

The study found that the closer respondents lived to wind power plants the more disruptive they felt the noise from them was, and the more positive the respondent's attitude towards wind power was the less the noise disturbed them when they were indoors.

The study also gives an indication of a link between sleep disorders. The more disruptive the noise from wind power plants that carried indoors, the more likely the noise was to wake someone from sleep or to prevent them from falling asleep.

The results of sound measurements and observation journals indicate that the average sound level of the noise is not necessarily sufficient to demonstrate why some individuals feel the noise from wind power plants is disruptive. The noise from wind power plants is considered disruptive not only in when winds are strong and equivalent sound levels are high, but also when there is little wind and equivalent sound levels are low.

The direction of the wind turbine in relation to the listener turned out to be significant. Noise from power plants was most often considered disruptive when the respondent was behind the turbine and diagonally behind it.

According to the results, the noise from wind power plants cannot typically be heard inside buildings and, if it is heard, it only disturbs a relatively small number of residents.

The results are part of Lappeenranta University of Technology study Disruptiveness of the Noise Generated by Wind Power Plants in Finland, which was carried out in winter 2014-2015. The level of disruptiveness experienced because of the noise from wind power plants was studied near two wind power production areas in Muukonkangas, Lappeenranta and Ristivuori, Merijärvi. As a result of this research, sound pressure measurements from wind power plants could be linked with how people experienced the noise from them.

The study will provide new information on the attitudes of Finns with regard to noise from wind power plants, as well as help in identifying situations in which the sound is felt to be disruptive. The collected material will also make it possible to analyse the understanding of residents on the health impacts of wind power plants.

Further information:

Sari Janhunen, Project Researcher, sari.janhunen@lut.fi, tel. +38 50 454 6815 

Published report: http://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-952-265-982-8