August 4, 2005

The noise of a wind turbine

The Clipper "Liberty" is a new 2.5-MW wind turbine model. The company has installed one as a test near Medicine Bow, Wyoming. In their environmental impact assessment submitted to the Department of Energy, Clipper notes that the noise level of the turbine in an 18-mph wind (8 m/s, well below its full operating speed) is 105 dBA 415 feet away. This is about the same as given for the Vestas V80 1.8-MW turbine. Clipper's own discussion notes that 90 dBA is the level at which "constant exposure endangers hearing."

Concern was noted for the effect of such noise on raptor nests and sage grouse leks (mating areas).

The assessment also expected that 10 acres of land would be disturbed and compacted by the construction of this single 415-ft-high turbine, causing runoff, erosion, sedimentation in streams, loss of soil productivity, destruction of vegetation, loss of wildlife habitat and food, and increased poaching and harassment of wildlife (presumably because of the new road).

During construction, the impact to pronghorn deer, mule deer, and elk was considered to extend a half-mile farther, displacing them from a total of 503 acres.

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