Solar & Wind Power - What You Need to Know
When it comes to Solar & Wind power systems, there are several considerations to consider. First of all, you need to have a place where there are no large windbreaks. Then, you need to look at the visual and noise impact that the system will have on your area. If the area has any of these things, then you're in luck! With the right environment, wind power systems can be as effective as solar power.
Wind systems require environments that are barren of large windbreaks
The optimal windbreak size for a large solar and wind energy installation is 10 meters high and 50 meters wide, but achieving that is not always possible. A more inexpensive and easy solution is to plant trees. Trees reduce wind speeds and protect living areas while also providing aesthetics and recreational value. Another benefit of windbreaks is that they provide ecosystem services, some of which extend well beyond the farm. These include increased biodiversity and wildlife habitat, carbon storage, and soil and water quality protection.
The optimal size of a windbreak depends on the site. Generally, wind breaks are not equally effective if there are gaps between the trees. When wind is prevailing from one direction, windbreak protection does not increase. If there is an area on the leeward side with no windbreaks, the protection provided by the windbreak will decrease as the wind changes direction. Multiple-leg windbreaks provide greater wind protection, but they must be placed in the most appropriate location and orientation to maximize the benefits.
For optimal windbreak efficiency, a large windbreak should be placed at a distance of at least 30H from a wind farm. Optimal windbreak height varies by type, but generally is less than 5 feet. This height is not enough to reduce wind speeds unless the windbreak is in a particularly high-wind area, which would make it impossible for large-scale wind farms to function effectively.
While windbreaks may not be necessary to achieve optimal windbreak performance, they can help reduce heating costs. By reducing the wind speed, windbreaks can reduce the rate of heat loss and increase the rate of cooling by up to 15% for a single home. Moreover, the reduction in wind speed is more pronounced for loosely-constructed homes. During calm days, the windbreak has almost no effect on air infiltration.
The infrasound generated by wind and solar power is measured in different distances from the sources. For instance, the noise produced by wind farms is 61 dB(G) at 360 meters and 71 dB(G) at 85 meters. However, the infrasound level increases with distance. Therefore, a wind turbine can be a nuisance even if the distance is only a mile.
For the study, noise was measured using an in situ survey mailed to 1,270 households located within 500 m and 1 km of wind turbines. The survey was completed anonymously by each individual living in the households. 138 completed surveys were returned. All the recorded noise levels were determined based on the data provided by the participants. Participants were asked to rank noise levels ranging from 0 to 4 and describe their perceived noise level. They were also asked to report any health symptoms they may have experienced.
In their study, Moller et al. calculated the LFN noise levels produced by wind turbines at four large turbines and 44 small and medium-sized turbines. They then measured the levels of low-frequency noise insulation in 10 rooms under normal living conditions. They found that noise levels from wind turbines decreased with increasing size, suggesting that LFN level may play a significant role in neighboring properties.
The socially acceptable number of people who become severely annoyed by wind turbine noise lies at about 10% in The Netherlands. Existing noise limits for road and railway traffic indicate that 47-49 dB is acceptable for wind turbines. As a result, the authors decided to investigate the feasibility of lowering the noise limit to 40 dB. Their results indicated that the noise limit could be lowered as low as 40%.
The visual impact of developments such as wind farms and solar power plants is a growing concern, and the pending development of these projects has created much confusion. This is despite the fact that the environmental benefits of wind and solar power plants are well known. In recent years, however, more public opinion has shifted to promoting renewable energy technologies, which are often free of visual impact. However, despite the positive benefits of renewable energy, many residents and local authorities remain skeptical about the impact of these developments on the landscape.
The visual impacts of wind and solar power are far less subjective than you might think. A study by Lothian (2013) compared four scenes of landscapes with and without power lines, and found that the presence of power lines reduced landscape quality by an average of 1.47, or 45%. In other words, wind power is significantly less visible than solar power, but it may still impact local residents and tourists in some areas.
The impact of wind and solar power on the environment has been widely studied and debated. In the Netherlands, De Vries et al. (2012) examined the visual impact of wind farms in several landscapes. They found that visible wind turbines had a negative effect on house prices by 5 percent to 6%. This effect was further reduced when the wind turbines were located 1.2 miles from buildings and were surrounded by vegetation. Moreover, the impact of wind and solar power was hardly noticeable within eight kilometers.
While the Australian government recently approved an official environmental impact assessment framework that provides an overview of the visual impacts of wind farms, this framework leaves it to developers to determine the technical approaches to assessing visual impacts. The results reveal a paradox: while wind farms produce benefits to the community, they also cause dis-benefits to the local community. It is therefore important to find a method to balance the visual and environmental impacts of wind farms.