Last update: February 28, 2017 We are now 160 Friends against wind
Stop These Things February 22, 2015 Australia

Three Decades of Wind Industry Deception

The chronology of a global conspiracy of silence and subterfuge is set out as a timeline. An excellent reference tool made by Stop These Things.

Access the timeline of wind industry deception

The chronology is set out as a timeline, which can be accessed by clicking on the image above.

Stop These Things sets out a chronology of what the wind industry and its pet acoustic consultants knew (and when they knew it); what the wind industry did in response to that knowledge; and how the wind industry and its parasites are fighting tooth and nail at present to ensure that that knowledge has no impact on its freedom to ride roughshod over the human rights, health and well-being of people living next door to wind farms.

Each page of the timeline gives a short run down of significant events (a headline and brief summary); contains images of key data or pages extracted from research papers referred to; some of those images are copies of the entire paper being referred to – these documents can be accessed for reading and printing by dragging your mouse over the image and clicking on the “pop out” window at the top right of the image (you will see a scroll-bar on those where a paper is reproduced). Below the images you will find links to papers, webpages, including the sources referenced and Stop These Things posts, for example (if the link does not work, simply copy and paste the URL into a fresh tab in your browser).

At the bottom of the timeline, there is a banner collecting all of the relevant events (you will probably need to scroll down to see it) which you can use to see all of the events in order: simply hold down your mouse and drag the banner left or right; to access any of the events summarised in the banner, simply click on it.

Alternatively, you can use the arrows on the far left or right of the screen (they appear about half-way up each page of the timeline) to move forward or backwards in time.

The NASA Research

Starting in the early 1980s, a decade’s worth of research was undertaken by NASA into a series of large wind turbines (then being developed by NASA), which included a stellar cast of physicists, meteorologists, geophysicists, seismologists, engineers (both mechanical and acoustic), and psycho-acousticians. Part of that research involved a multidisciplinary effort to identify the causes of complaints made by neighbours in relation to the operation of those turbines: we refer to it as “the NASA research”, which also included work carried out by Neil Kelley.

Some of the key findings of the NASA research into the neighbours’ complaints were that:

  • “very low frequency” noise generated by NASA’s turbines (which was defined to include “infrasound”) was the cause of the “annoyance” reported by neighbours (“annoyance” being an acoustics term which does not involve emotional responses – ie “antipathy” to the “look” of wind turbines);
  • the “annoyance” being reported by neighbours included numerous physiological responses, which were described as “sensations”. These “sensations”, which they felt rather than heard, were sensations of “pressure”, “a sense of uneasiness”, “booming or thumping pulsations”. These sensations were at their worst in the bedrooms where they were trying to sleep;
  • the “very low frequency” noise generated by turbines interacted with, and was amplified by, the complainant’s homes, creating “structural resonances”, whereby low-frequency sound-waves “excited” materials within the home, causing vibration of the home;
  • the “very low frequency noise” generated by turbines was not “attenuated” by the structure of the homes (ie, sound pressure levels were not significantly reduced inside homes), but, rather, interacted with homes in the manner described above – resulting in higher sound pressure levels at very low frequencies (ie the noise levels recorded were higher inside than outside), causing greater “annoyance” to neighbours, as a result;
  • the vibration of these homes, caused by turbine generated infrasound, resulted in neighbours perceiving that vibration with their whole bodies (ie “whole body perception”);
  • the very low-frequency noise generated by NASA’s turbines was replicated in a “house” (a three room structure) during a further study; and was shown to cause “annoyance/displeasure” as a “presence” which participants could “feel” to varying degrees, up to “extremely annoying and uncomfortable”; sensations of “vibration/pressure” and “pulsations”, which participants could also “feel” to varying degrees, up to and including “severe vibration” and “very heavy pulses, booms and thumps”;
  • the common noise descriptor or weighting, dB(A) (used to measure noise sources such as air-conditioners) was found to be totally inadequate, with almost no significant relationship to the sensations and symptoms being reported; and, was, accordingly found to be the worst possible measure for predicting the level of “annoyance” being reported by neighbours;
  • a variety of noise descriptors, designed to capture low-frequency noise, showed strong correlations between the noise levels generated and the sensations recorded;
  • the first of the NASA turbine designs being studied as part of research had its blades down wind from the tower. The second turbine design placed the blades up wind (ie, in front of the tower). The infrasound and low-frequency noise levels generated were not significantly altered as a result. (Modern wind turbines use the “up wind” design);
  • the homes where people were adversely affected were situated out to as far as 3km from a single turbine;
  • the propagation distance (ie the distance over which noise travels before it “decays”) is far greater for low-frequency noise and infrasound generated by turbines, than the propagation distance of noise which does not contain sound energy at low frequencies.

In 1987, at a wind power conference in San Francisco, the wind industry was presented with the findings of NASA’s research; and told that these findings meant that dB(A) was an inappropriate method of measuring wind turbine noise, and the impact of that noise on neighbours. It was further told that low-frequency noise and infrasound were the dominant features of wind turbine generated noise, which would cause significant “annoyance” to neighbours.

Independent of, but concurrent with, the NASA research substantial efforts were made in investigating the impacts of infrasound on human health, particularly in relation to effects such as nausea, headaches and vertigo.

In 1985, a study was published (Nussbaum) that established infrasound as the cause of symptoms including: accelerated heart rate; increased respiration; fatigue; dizziness (vertigo); nausea (motion sickness); and headaches, among other things. The study found that certain people were more greatly affected by infrasound than others (ie more serious symptoms and/or sensations were experienced; or were experienced to a greater degree). These differences in response were, among other things, attributed to physiological differences, including differences in the size of the internal passages of the subjects’ ears.

The Wind Industry Cover Up

As the wind industry began to take off in the early 1990s it needed to set noise limits and planning criteria that would not present any obstacle to it in rolling out turbines in quiet rural environments.

The wind industry gathered what became known as the “noise working group” in 1995; a group which then, and thereafter, worked on wind industry noise guidelines.

The result was a document called ETSU-R-97.

That document reads as if the NASA research had never happened as it:

  • excludes any reference to low-frequency noise (the source of the problem shown by the NASA research as the cause of the sensations and symptoms suffered);
  • excludes the noise descriptors and weightings that were found by the NASA research to be the best predictors of the annoyance caused to neighbours, and the sensations and symptoms suffered;
  • relies exclusively on the dB(A) weighting (found to be irrelevant as a consequence of the NASA research);
  • assumes that, in all cases, the sound pressure levels inside neighbouring homes are substantially less than what is recorded outside those homes (entirely to the contrary of the findings made in the NASA research);
  • excludes testing inside homes for noise of any frequency (let alone low-frequency noise);
  • instead, limits noise testing to measurements taken external to homes, using the dB(A) weighting only;
  • established methods by which monitoring equipment can be placed in a way that will simply measure environmental noise (eg “wind in the trees”). In the first instance, these “methods” allow for the placement of monitoring equipment in locations where high levels can be recorded prior to the construction of a wind farm (eg, underneath trees or in bushes). Subsequently, noise level criteria can be met by simply shifting the location of the monitoring equipment (eg, placing them in the open away from trees or bushes).

All of the wind industry noise standards or guidelines which have emerged around the world since then can trace their origins to ETSU-R-97 – think of it as the wind industry’s template for deception.

Over the last decade or so, the wind industry has fought tooth and nail to defend these standards or guidelines. It has resisted all attempts or even suggestions that would:

  • result in standards which include the measurement of low-frequency noise and infrasound;
  • set controls for low-frequency noise and infrasound inside homes;
  • require wind farm operators to cooperate with meaningful noise testing by, for example:
    • shutting turbines on and off in order to distinguish between the noise generated by turbines and environmental noise, such as wind in the trees; or
    • providing operational data, such as wind speed and power output data;

Indeed, whenever these topics are raised by authorities or community groups the wind industry becomes defensive; and even aggressive in response.

Along the way, the wind industry continued to press planning authorities for even higher noise limits than were originally set (in the irrelevant dB(A) measure, of course) – that would permit ever larger turbines to be located ever closer to residential homes; planning authorities and Environmental Protection Agencies willingly obliged.

In South Australia – the first state in Australia to introduce wind farm noise guidelines – its EPA was so obliging to the wind industry, that its 2003 guidelines include the entirely fictional assertion that wind turbines do not produce infrasound at all, the guidelines stating:

  • Infrasound was a characteristic of some wind turbine models that has been attributed to early designs in which turbine blades were downwind of the main tower. The effect was generated as the blades cut through the turbulence generated around the downwind side of the tower.
  • Modern designs generally have the blades upwind of the tower. Wind conditions around the blades and improved blade design minimise the generation of the effect. The EPA has consulted the working group and completed an extensive literature search but is not aware of infrasound being present at any modern wind farm site.

The same fiction appears in the current version of the SA EPA wind farm noise guidelines published in 2009.

The wind industry’s efforts to use noise standards to cover up the issue of infrasound, and to obtain ever higher dB(A) noise limits, occurred despite knowing, full well, that low-frequency noise and infrasound was causing harm and distress to wind farm neighbours.

For example, from 2004 onwards, employees and management of Danish turbine manufacturer, Vestas warned that the wind turbine noise guidelines were inadequate in relation to the protection of wind farm neighbours; and, by 2011, knew that greater setback distances were required to avoid problems of precisely the kind being caused; especially in relation to the larger 3MW turbines, which were being rolled out by Vestas from 2010 onwards.

All of the above, and more, is laid out in the timeline.

The World Turns Full Circle

Recent work performed by leading acoustic engineers around the world has simply confirmed all of the facts and findings made in the NASA research, which concluded over 27 years ago.

The recent research that confirms the extensive work done by NASA, includes work carried out by:

  • Dr Paul Schomer, George Hessler, Rob Rand and Dr Bruce Walker at Shirley, Wisconsin in 2012 (available here);
  • Professor Colin Hansen and his team from the Adelaide University at Waterloo in South Australia during 2014 (see our post here); and
  • the groundbreaking research conducted by Steven Cooper at Cape Bridgewater in Victoria, also during 2014 (which has been recently published – see our posts here and here).

That work, like the NASA research before it, shows that the noise guidelines written by, and relied upon, by the wind industry are utterly irrelevant when it comes to the question of protecting public health; and the adverse consequences of living with incessant turbine generated low-frequency noise and infrasound.

The aim of the timeline is not just to catalogue the trail of wind industry lies and deception. It is squarely aimed at showing how regulatory authorities have been duped by (or have been complicit with) an industry completely devoid of any desirable moral characteristics; and which is, rather, driven by a callous disregard for human health and well-being.

Wherever you are fighting to bring the wind industry to a halt; to obtain the ability to live in and use your own homes; or to achieve just compensation for the damage and harm caused through government supported wind industry malfeasance, Stop These Things simply invites you to use our little timeline to your best advantage.