Wind turbine noise primer

Beth D. Regan, Timothy G. Casey


A wind turbine is a modern machine that generates electricity from wind. Wind turbines generate four types of noise: tonal, broadband, low frequency, and impulsive. Another way to look at wind turbine noise is to consider its sources. There are two fundamental categories, mechanical and aerodynamic. Mechanical noise is transmitted along the structure of the turbine and is radiated from its surfaces. Aerodynamic noise is produced by the flow of air over the blades. In the United States, wind farm siting often requires compliance with state and/or local noise regulations. Common practice is to determine minimum setback distances from residences to comply with the most stringent noise limit. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) is a valuable tool in this type of analysis, particularly when current aerial photographs are available in GIS-ready format. Although recent technology advances has decreased overall noise levels, tonal noise still remains a concern during the planning process. Detailed meteorological data is available for most portions of the United States, however it is not commonly used to evaluate wind turbine noise. The authors of this paper are studying the creation of a GIS-based model that utilizes detailed met data in the propagation of wind turbine noise.


Acoustic wave propagation; Aerodynamics; Electric power generation; Geographic information systems; Impulse noise; Noise pollution; Aerodynamic noise; Meteorological data; Noise regulations; Wind turbine noise

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