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  Noise pollution by wind power plants?
HEAD Press Release Herzogenrath (Germany), September 15, 2014
Noise pollution by wind power plants?
Examining the significance of psychoacoustic characteristics
and non-acoustic factors for the judgment of wind turbine noise
A recent examination for a master thesis deals with psychoacoustic and non-acoustic influences caused by wind power plant noise, which can lead to widespread annoyance. The noise character of wind power plants depends on various factors, such as the type of plant, its speed, or the number of rotor blades. So far, the specific causes of noise nuisance due to wind power plants had been scantly researched. Therefore, in order to determine potential noise-causing factors, an extensive laboratory study was conducted, which included various emission locations.
In listening tests, subjects judged various types of ambient noise. In the first part of the experiment, the noise was filtered to resemble the acoustic impression in a home. In the second part, ambient noise was presented as it would be perceived outdoors. The subject rated each sound using semantic differential with criteria like ominosity, annoyance, loudness, variation, strangeness, and low-frequency noise character. In addition to the test ratings, a questionnaire was used to analyze person-specific factors, thus allowing the inclusion of non-acoustic influences on the judgment of specific ambient noise. Furthermore, the significance of psychoacoustic characteristics (loudness, roughness, fluctuation strength, modulation, tonality, etc.) for the judgment of wind power plant noise was explored.
The examination revealed connections between non-acoustic factors and the judgment of wind power plant noise. For example, people who considered themselves sensitive to noise rated the sound of wind power plants as particularly ominous and unpleasant. Besides noise-sensitivity and the general noise exposure of the subjects, additional factors such as the place of living, a predisposition to noise pollution, and the person’s age influenced the judgment of wind power plant noise.
Furthermore, the examination also showed that subjects reacted very differently to different types of wind power plants measured from the same distance. Even with an identical A weighted sound pressure level, three different types of wind power plants were rated significantly differently regarding several rating criteria. The different psychoacoustic characteristics of the sounds lead to these different judgments. The overall results confirmed that the judgment of wind power plant noise depends not only on the A weighted sound pressure level, but also on additional psychoacoustic factors.
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