Shepherd, K. Hubbard, H. Noise Radiation Characteristics – Westinghouse WWG-0600 Wind Turbine Generator

Noise Radiation Characterists of the Westinghouse WWG-0600 (600kW) Wind Turbine Generator
Kevin P. Shepherd, Harvey H. Hubbard, July 1989

NASA, Langley Research Centre, Hampton, Virginia USA


There is a need to develop a data base for evaluating the environmental impact of mid-range (100-1000kW output) horizontal axis wind turbine generators of the types proposed for future wind power stations. The Westinghouse WWG-0600 machine is believed to be representative of those mid-range machines for which limited acoustic data are available.

References 1,2,3 and 4 contain narrowband and broadband spectra and directivity patterns for the 200kW MOD-OA Department of Energy machine and its research version, the MOD-O machine, which was operated at two rotational speeds as well as in the upwind and downwind configurations.

Reference 5 presents fragmentary spectral data at various distances (upwind and downwind) and for several wind speeds for the Danish NIBE 640 kW machine and the Danish Windane 300 kW machine.

Reference 6 contains detailed spectral information for the Danish Danwin machine as well as for several smaller machines of American and foreign manufacture.

The noise characteristics of the 600 kW WWG-0600 machine are believed to be of direct interest to those involved in wind power station siting and development in proximity to communities (Ref 7).

The present study makes use of a currently operating wind power station to obtain systematic acoustic measurements for a range of power output/wind speed conditions. The data compared with results for other similar machines and with predictions by available methods.

This effort is part of the Department of Energy wind energy program managed by the Solar Energy Research Institute. Data were obtained with the assistance and cooperation of Hawaiian Electric Co. personnel at the site.

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 This study, published in 1989, confirmed that upwindbladed horizontal axis wind turbines could generate enhanced levels of infrasound and low frequency noise, as a result of dirty inflow characteristics of the wind, ie turbulence. This occurs particularly where wind turbines are sited too close together for example, in contravention of the recommendations for turbine separations in International Standard IEC 61400.

In Australia locations where wind turbines are located much closer together than IEC 61400 recommends are known to have occurred include Waubra, Macarthur, Cullerin Range and Waterloo Wind Developments. These locations are all known internationally for the wind turbine noise related health and sleep problems which have been reported by residents since the wind developments commenced operating. In the case of Waubra and Cullerin, they commenced operating in 2009, well before the Waubra Foundation was established.

The Clean Energy Council and the wind industry, and even the South Australian Environment Protection Agency have claimed that “modern wind turbines do not emit infrasound” yet this was proved wrong by NASA researchers in 1989.