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Study of the environmental impact of wind energy installations

Objective

To investigate the impact of wind energy plants on the local environment.
The 4 items within the programme are:
noise emission;
safety aspects;
nuisance to birds;
visual impact.
The noise emission of windfarms in the Nederlands, Germany and Denmark are measured. People living in the neighbourhood will be questioned about hindrance by the noise of windturbines.

The objective of the safety project is to analyse the probability of potentially dangerous failure modes of an existing wind turbine design that meets the present safety criteria. The first results are available. This work is of a different nature than the others as it mainly concerns manufacturers and not people. The general question of risk for people shall however be treated.

Nuisance to birds is studied in several countries. Nevertheless the study spots a growing fear for unacceptable damage to birdlife from large wind turbines. This programme analyses the targets, methods and results of studies executed in the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States. It gives an overview of the European wind energy programmes as an indication of the types of locations that are the most wanted for the exploitation of wind energy.

The inventory of visual impact aspects is divided into 3 sections:
the design of the turbine;
windfarms and their surrounding;
the siting of wind turbines.
Although each person's perception is unique, there is actually a broad consensus about landscape evaluations by local people and people active in the field of wind energy.
Although wind turbines produce energy without any polluting discharges, there are some drawbacks connected with their implementation. These include:

1) emission of acoustic noise;
2) safety aspects though danger to the lives and property of people living near wind turbines due to machine failures;
3) flickering effects (shadow and reflection) caused by the rotating blades and the sun;
4) nuisance on bird lives and habitats;
5) aesthetic effects on the landscape;
6) electromagnetic interference effects on wave propagation affecting the reception of TV, radar and radio signals.

The fear that some of the above-mentioned effects will occur after a wind turbine has been erected often leads to legal procedures by local inhabitants against the project itself. In many instances this is also a cause of unforeseeable costs which may be prohibitive. Sometimes these problems have been avoided simply by selecting sites which are less sensitive to the above effects or via proper and early dissemination of information.

This project has been set up by carefully considering:

a) those aspects on which the present body of knowledge is still scarce;
b) the likely impact of the above-listed effects on the project preparation time and cost and the generation of electricity.

This has led to define a work programme focused on 4 priority areas, namely:

1) Noise emission
2) Safety aspects
3) Nuisance to birds
4) Visual impact

Investigating these four areas is hence the main scope of this proposal. The other areas however will not be overlooked and will be critically considered in the general frame of project. The project will also benefit from the various national and international activities which have already been carried out in such fields.

Funding Scheme

CSC - Cost-sharing contracts

Coordinator

Universiteit van Amsterdam
Address
130,Nieuwe Prinsengracht
1018 VZ Amsterdam
Netherlands

Participants (2)

COMMISSARIAT A L'ENERGIE ATOMIQUE
France
Address
Rue De La Federation 31-33
75015 Paris
ENERGY RESEARCH CENTRE OF THE NETHERLANDS
Netherlands
Address
Westerduinweg 3
Petten