Was Professor Moller Fired Because He Told The Truth About Wind Turbine Low Frequency Noise?

Published in the Danish Journal “Information” on 3rd June, 2014

Dismissed noise professor selected amongst 200 researchers

Less than a year before Aalborg University dismissed the critical noise Professor Henrik Møller, the University employed two other researchers in the small Acoustics section. It wasn’t found until afterwards that they could not afford as many employees, says the dean explanation.

By Emil Rottbøll

Insufficient financial resources was Aalborg University’s justification that a researcher in the Acoustics section had to be fired, and that the choice fell exactly on the critical noise Professor Henrik Møller.

But less than a year before Henrik Moller received his dismissal notice, the university employed two new lecturers in acoustics.

This reinforces the suspicion that there are other motives behind the sacking of Henrik Møller than economic factors, critics believe. From Information’s description the Vice President of The Danish Confederation of Professional Associations, Ingrid Stage calls the case strange.

»It looks quite peculiar. One can easily get the idea that the lack of resources is a convenient justification, « “she says.

The chairman of the National Association Neighbors of Giant Wind Turbines, Tone F. Brix Hansen, is of the same opinion.

»The entire dismissal looks very mysterious, « she says.

Henrik Møller is internationally recognized for his research on low frequency noise that has repeatedly brought him on a collision course with the Danish Wind Industry Association and the Danish EPA, which he has accused of making knowingly incorrect calculation methods for the noise emitted by wind turbines.

The National Association Neighbors of Giant Windmills fears that this has been instrumental in the targeting of Moller.

One out of 200

Apart from three staff members in a closed research section in Esbjerg, Henrik Møller is the only one out of about 200 researchers at the institute, who has been fired.

In the dismissal letter, the management notes that there are too many staff members in the Acoustics section related to how many students there are, and how much income they gain from external projects and publications. Nevertheless, since May last year, two new associate professors have been employed, by which the section went from five to seven permanent researchers.

Before the new appointments, it was already known that Aalborg University’s result for 2012 was considerably worse than expected. In an email dated March 13, 2013, Henrik Møller’s superior, Dean Eskild Holm Nielsen, writes to all employees at the Faculty of Engineering and Science, that the Faculty has been put under enhanced economic surveillance because of the serious cost overruns, and that all units must examine their budgets to obtain cost savings and new revenues. At the same time, the Dean announces a full hiring freeze, where the Rector must grant special permission for any employment to take place anyway.

The reason to proceed with the two employments in the Acoustics section was »that it was necessary to maintain momentum in the Acoustics section« and »that there were urgent educational tasks to be solved, « just as there was an interest in the two candidates’ research profiles, explains Dean Eskild Holm Nielsen.

It was only later, after a detailed analysis, that we realized how much we had to save at the Department of Electronic Systems, where the Acoustics section belongs, he says.

»The institute tried to make a venture in the area. It turned out then that we could not afford it. It is very unfortunate and tiresome, « says Eskild Holm Nielsen.

He also stresses that he has always defended Henrik Møller’s right to freedom of speech.

»People may come up with the conspiracy theories they want. I cannot say anything to that. It’s like tilting at windmills, « he says.

As documentation he refers to an e-mail correspondence from the summer of 2011, when the Danish Wind Industry Association complained to the Dean about a feature article of which Henrik Møller was a co-author.

In an e-mail, the Danish Wind Industry Association wonders that researchers from Aalborg University put forward criticism in public, when the University has just been invited to a technical consultation on the same matter later that month.

To this, Eskild Holm Nielsen replies:

»I am sorry that Henrik Møller and his colleagues choose to bring out their message in public, when a technical consultation has been arranged. It is not the university’s priority to choose polemics, but scientists have the right to freedom of speech. I actually thought that I had a common understanding that they were to use their energy on the technical consultation. I have not had the opportunity to ask Henrik and his colleagues, why they have acted as they have. We will get back. «

Henrik Møller did not want to comment further on his case of dismissal at present.

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The case firefly:

Information wrote yesterday that the professor of acoustics Henrik Møller has been fired from Aalborg University for giving economic deficit. Due to financial problems, his institute was to fire a researcher in the Acoustics section. This section was selected because of its imbalance between revenue and expenditure. Then, the seven researchers in the section were compared for »gainful performance«, and Henrik Møller was, according to the notice, the person that could best be omitted.

Translation by Peter Skeel Hjorth