Wind Turbines and ‘Shadow Flicker’

August 24, 2011 by  
Filed under Energy Saving Tips, Featured

If you do not live near a wind turbine, it is unlikely you will have ever heard the term ‘shadow flicker’ in everyday usage. The problem however is being discussed fervently by those who reside near onshore wind farms, and the matter is having to be settled by the courts in some cases.

Like all large structures, wind turbines cast a shadow. If one lives near enough to an active wind farm, this shadow may fall on your home at various points of the day. To many homeowners, this in itself is annoying, particularly if they live in rural areas and did not expect to have to deal with shadows falling on their property.

However, this is not the sole concern of those living near an active wind turbine. Unlike almost every other type of structure, wind turbines have three rotating blades. In the case of shadows cast on to a house, these blades themselves cast a shadow. However, the blades are in motion, so the shadow is a constantly moving menace that is extremely disturbing to witness. The constant passing of this shadow can occur for hours per day, and if residents are at home during that time, there is no escape.

Many energy companies refuse to exist shadow flicker is a problem, which has lead to many residents forming action groups. The solution is actually very simple, as shadow flicker will not occur if a turbine is placed 3,000 feet away from the nearest home. However, some energy companies have placed certain turbines as close to residences as 1,100 feet. Many anticipate changes in the law will prevent this from happening again, based on the evidence presented by annoyed existing residents who have to live with shadow flicker.

Onshore Wind Farms

August 24, 2009 by  
Filed under Energy Saving Tips, Featured

An offshore wind farm is an area which is host to several wind turbines, sometimes up to 100 individual turbines at a time. Rather than working as individual turbines, all of the energy collected by these wind farms is grouped into one larger generator of electricity; making such developments the power plant of the modern era.

The most common type of wind farm is the onshore wind farm. This essentially means where each wind turbine is anchored into land, usually on a grassy field or high on a hillside.

Other forms of wind farms are possible; offshore wind farms are built in the sea, and airborne and near water wind farms are also increasingly common.

The reason for the onshore wind farm’s popularity is that they are easy to construct when compared with other options. Materials can be brought to the site, and while the transportation is expensive. When the component parts have arrived at the wind farm location, from there the erection of each turbine is relatively simple by modern engineering standards. Cranes are most typically used to winch the blades into place.

Onshore wind farms are most typically built in rural areas, though some cities are now building them close to urban areas. For example, a new wind farm in Glasgow, Scotland is only 20 miles from the centre of the city. While there are some aesthetic issues – particularly with local residents – this close proximity to where electricity is needed most means onshore wind farms can be extremely productive.

The Effect of Wind Turbines on Humans

August 24, 2009 by  
Filed under Energy Saving Tips

Wind turbines and farms are becoming an evermore familiar sight on the landscape, and while generally accepted as a useful resource for electricity generation, they have not been without their critics.

One of the major criticisms of wind farms is that they are damaging to the humans who live near them. This effect is both psychological and physical, though there is more evidence for the former. The issue of physical health problems caused by living near a wind farm are a matter of much debate in the medical community.

The psychological problems are more basic. Many of those living near a wind farm find it difficult to sleep due to the noise of the turbines. While the noise is not excessive (it equates roughly to the noise of medium-level traffic, which most of us ignore without thinking) it can be annoying for those in rural areas. As wind farms are more likely to be erected in rural areas – where the general noise level is much lower than cities – there have been complaints over the noise generated. The problem, however, is not considered to be substantial.

The physical health concerns are far more rare, and generally centre around the low-threshold noise produced by wind turbines. Continued exposure to very low noise can upset the inner ear and cause problems such as headaches, but there is no reputable study that has proven wind farms are the cause of this.

When wind turbines are erected, they do pose a minor danger to those living near by. If a brake on a turbine fails, the turbine can have blades spin loose and scatter. For this reason, turbines are constantly monitored and if one appears to be in trouble, all efforts will be made to close it down before a problem occurs.