Wind Turbine Noise Doesn’t Make Her Sick

Overwhelmingly, researchers have found little evidence to back up complaints that utility-scale wind power can be blamed for a wide range of alleged ailments lumped together as “wind turbine syndrome.” But this hasn’t quieted wind power opponents, whose impassioned voices can sometimes seem to overwhelm the fact-based rebuttals from the academy and the industry.

Into that fray now jumps Pascale, a kid from Freiburg, Germany. Wind turbines overlook her hometown, but Pascale doesn’t mind, and she and her father have made a video that puts complaints about wind turbine noise and ill health effects into an interesting new context.

Wind turbines make me sick from Craig Morris on Vimeo.

I traded email with the “Daddy” referenced in the video, Craig Morris, who follows renewable energy as the editor of Renewables International. Morris emphasized that the wind turbine noise you hear in the video – or, more accurately, don’t hear – is a true reflection of reality.

“For the ‘wind noise’ video … I did absolutely nothing to the audio to reduce the sound coming from the wind turbines – no tweaking whatsoever,” Morris said. “None needed, and that is my point.”

Morris explained that he is working on a 45- to 60-minute film on Germany’s energy transition – Energiewende – that will include the wind turbine noise video, as well as another already produced and that we highly recommend, called “Four German Words.”

The videos and the film are tied in with an effort to build Energy Democracy TV, which describes itself as “the world’s first crowdpublished magazine app on the decentralized, community owned energy transition.” It’s an attempt, you might say, to amplify the often quiet voices of renewable energy supporters:

Energy Democracy TV helps pave the way to a society based on 100% renewable energy by covering stories that are often neglected or misinterpreted by traditional media: Behind the energy transition are engaged and committed people, conflicts, dramas and heroes of everyday life. They are making the energy revolution happen by pushing for right policies, building a community wind farm or installing solar panels on their roof.

Full disclosure: In the interest of following its progress, I kicked in $10 for Energy Democracy TV. – Pete Danko

Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.

  • Joshua Burstyn

    F’in right. In Ontario, Canada we have people fighting against wind turbines, claiming their families have become ill from the already installed units. What a load of utter bollocks.

    • Valewood

      Always spoken by someone who lives nowhere near a wind turbine.

    • myview1872

      Health effects aside (there is significant evidence that they are very real), do you have any unbiased evidence IWT actually do any good at all? Don’t forget about fossil fuel backup in your response.

      • PD

        There’s no debate that wind power offers carbon-reduction benefits. Wind critics often point to an Argonne National Labs study last year (http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/es2038432) that argued emissions reductions aren’t proportional to wind generation additions as penetration levels increase, but even there the authors wrote: “The reduction in emissions during operational periods is great enough that the trend of total emissions is clearly decreasing with increasing wind power penetration.” The ANL researchers said that with 10 percent of the electricity on the grid there would be 12% carbon dioxide emissions savings, and with 20 percent electricity on the grid, the CO2 savings would be 21 percent.

        • myview1872

          I asked for unbiased evidence. ANL is just another advocate for so-called renewables. Please try again and make your source is UNBIASED.

          • PD

            Well OK then, you’ve shown me what you’re all about. Thanks for reading.

          • myview1872

            And I know what you’re all about. Keep spreading your misinformation with no real evidence to show the stupid things actually do any good at all.

          • Spencerforhire

            Argonne National Laboratory is one of the U.S. Department of Energy’s largest national laboratories for scientific and engineering research. Our over 1,250 scientists and engineers aim to solve the nation’s most important challenges in energy, the environment and national security.

            So Ol’timer does them turbin’ affect UR weed growin”?

          • myview1872

            Check their website. They proudly support ‘renewable’ energy. Even engineers can have biases.

            Where is UNBIASED evidence that IWT actually do any good at all? You have never been able to provide that, no matter how many times you’ve been asked.

          • Spencerforhire

            Too funny for words!

            Gee they are looking to “to solve the nation’s most important challenges in energy, the environment and national security.”

            OK show EVERYONE where the US Department of Energy and 1,250 scientists and engineers are biased!!

            And please no NIMBY sites, idiots or crazy people!

        • But how much and at what price and how does that compare to CCGT and nuclear?

          • PD

            In the U.S., where gas is cheap, gas tends to be a little bit less expensive than wind, while nuclear is the most expensive on a levelized cost basis. But there’s great variation regionally and even greater variation internationally. (And, of course, those estimates don’t put a price on carbon.)
            source:http://www.eia.gov/forecasts/aeo/electricity_generation.cfm

        • myview1872

          I took a closer look at the ANL press release for “System-wide implications of Increased Wind Power Penetration”. Here are quotes from that release with my observations:

          1. “It’s actually the older technology in the background that hampers wind.” … Blame the problem on the grid but continue to go to the expense of building more IWT and hoping for a solution to the issue.

          2. “Turning these large plants on and off is inefficient,” … Why not just leave them running efficiently and forget about the wind turbines? That sounds a little cheaper to me.

          3. “The best solution, he said, would be a way to store unused energy when the wind is blowing.” … Where is that technology? Is there working large-scale system anywhere?

          4. “The research was funded by the DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.” … I think the authors, summer interns, by the way, know which side their bread is buttered on.

          You have to pay to read the original information.

          After all the wind turbines that have been built around the world, you would think that independent research would exist that proves IWT are beneficial to the environment or the electicity system. No one has provided that reseach no matter how many times I ask for that proof.

  • sandcanyongal

    If you don’t live near wind turbines you shouldn’t be part of this conversation because you are clueless about the noise they produce. The low level sound of turbines penetrate double paned window and can be heard in the bowel of a home. The sound causes erratic blood pressure. The atmospheric vibrate can be felt going clear through the body outdoors. Sometime the sound of hundreds of turbines turn the outdoors in to what sounds like a working steel factory, other times like living next to a major airport and still others like a impending tsunami coming over the ridge for hours on end. Does it cause me health problems? Yes. My entire sleep cycle is off and I now go to bed at 4 or 5 in the morning rather than 11:30 as a usual time. Oh. I now sleep with a pillow over my head to drown out the noise. Anywhere is a mountainous area the turbines can be audible for 8 or 10 miles because of the coves and insets of hills.

    There isn’t anything green about wind turbines. Their materials are mined as iron ore, with hundreds of tons of steel needed per finished turbine, same with copper and aluminum, other precious metals, cements from coal fired kilns, heavy uses of herbicides and pesticides to keep brush down and bugs off the propellers that enters the groundwater (30+ years worth). Furthermore, they’re so intermittent that hydro dam developers are installing 2 tiered monstrous storage dams and they’re run partially off the GRID! They also slaughter every single bird and bat in the area eventually. None of this is green. Personally, I feel the taxpayer have been scammed into paying for infrastructure so that developers can sweep in and put home more urban communities. Once there’s transmission, houses will pop up along with more smog, vehicle emission, etc. It’s a vicious cycle.

    • PD

      Sorry to hear about your experience. It sounds awful. But of course the point of the article is that Pascale *does* live near wind turbines. So while your experience counts, so, too, does hers — and so do the many others who live in the vicinity of wind turbines without apparent issue. It’s probably too much to expect that wind turbines can be sited such that nobody is impacted, but minimizing the number of people impacted and the extent of the impact on those people should be part of the processes.

      Beyond that, you didn’t ask for my advice, but if you are trying to sway people to convince media (like me) that wind turbines cause you health problems, you might do well to be careful about the claims you make about wind turbines beyond your personal experience. Outrageous and ill-informed claims — that “they slaughter every single bird and bat in the area,” etc. — don’t help your credibility. They make it sound like you’re willing to say anything to fight wind power development.

      • sandcanyongal

        For the record regarding the slaughter of all the birds. I don’t need to be careful about my claims. I’m correct. The closest set of turbine to me are 1.48 miles away. There used to be raptor, owls, burrowing owls, scrub jays by the dozens. Today, other than a few ravens and sparrows, there are empty skies. Of course they’ve collided with the wind turbines. Do you think birds process that rotating blades will kill them? There is another fact. Migrating birds can’t see in the fog any more than you or I can. The transmission lines kill them too.

        I have a friend who is an animal control officer – animal abuse. She spoke with a wind company worker who told her to her face that he picks up 10-20 hawks off the ground every day of the week.

        Yes. These supposed “clean energy” machines that have become the fad turn productive farm land and pristine forest and desert into useless wasteland. Did you know that wetlands are used in remote areas for the water to wet down the roads to keep the dust down and to make concrete? The wetland I read about was expected to go down at least 9 feet. Furthermore, the Pacific Crest Trail near Tehachapi has been turned into a ghetto trail. Hardly anyone wants to hike in a place where the faa lights block out the night sky and they can’t sleep because of the intense noise. They’re killing off our environmental treasures on one side to put up “dirty” turbines on the other side. Why don’t you read through an environmental impact report sometime to educate yourself on the facts.

  • sandcanyongal

    Again, if you don’t live near wind turbines, you are clueless. Any noise over 50 decibles can cause problems. Why do you think there are noise limit ordinances? Acoustics and cumulative noise are the keys. 1 wind turbine might not be audible but 100 of them, cumulatively, might be a real mother.

    I have a neighbor who is nearly deaf and the 100s of wind turbines don’t seem to bother her. However, many people and animals have severe problems.

    Since 500 foot wind turbines are so benign let’s all push to put them all along the beachfronts and lakes where the winds blow all the time, on the edges of the lakes in the windy cities like the miracle mile in Chicago, Malibu, Redondo Beach, where the winds blow all the time? Many cities have wind all the time and they should be peppered wherever the concentrations of people live, not in rural areas. Hey, people who live in cities are already adapted to high levels of noise so what’s a little more to them, anyway.

  • sandcanyongal

    Hey, if you would like a few thousand “quiet” wind turbines in your backyard call one of the wind developers and solicit them lease your yard to them. Tell your no-nimby neighbors to do the same. You’ll get paid a few thousand a month for the next 30 years for hosting some on your property and you can still live there!

  • sandcanyongal

    google youtube for Victim Impact Statement Robyn and Glen Brewe Part 2, organic farmers from Evansford Victoria