Are wind turbines noisy?
Modern turbines are actually very quiet.. Thanks to advances in wind turbine technology, well designed, well sited turbines can be quiet enough to cause no disturbance to people living just a few hundred metres away.

At these distances, any noise they do make is usually drowned out by the natural noise of the wind itself in the trees and vegetation. To protect nearby residents from any undue disturbance, proposals to install wind turbines are required to meet strict noise standards. They must comply with a national New Zealand Standard (NZS 6808: 1998 Acoustics: The Assessment and Measurement of Sound from Wind Turbine Generators) which states that sound levels "measured at the boundary of any residential site must not exceed the greater of 40 decibels or background noise plus 5 decibels". To put this standard into perspective:

  • The sound of people whispering is about 30 decibels
  • Refrigerators are about 43 decibels
  • Normal speech is about 45 decibels
  • A typical vacuum cleaner registers at about 70 decibels

Having read exaggerated claims in the press, people visiting wind farms are often surprised at how quiet they actually are. A conversation can be carried out at the base of a modern operating turbine without raising one's voice. The Scottish Executive public opinion survey, for example, is one of several demonstrating that concerns about noise are often unfounded.

Before construction of the Scottish wind farms studied, 12% of people living near the sites thought that the turbines would cause a noise nuisance, but after construction, when people had experience of the wind farm operating, only 2% thought they were noisy.

For more information: see the literature review "Low Frequency Noise and Infrasound from Wind Turbine Generators" prepared for the EECA by Bel Acoustic Consulting.


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