The truth about wind power


Shadow Flicker

How does science show wind power is safe for my community?

THE TRUTH: Shadow flicker is predictable, harmless, and passes quickly. It is based on the sun’s angle, turbine location, and the distance to an observer; it can be avoided by several methods.

  • With modeling, shadows from moving wind blades are predictable and turbines can be sited to minimize flicker to a few hours a year.
  • Shadow flicker typically lasts just a few minutes near sunrise and sunset and can be addressed through use of proven mitigation techniques such as screening plantings.
  • The rate at which wind turbine shadows flicker is far below the frequency that, according to the Epilepsy Foundation, normally is associated with seizures.
  • An expert panel for the National Academy of Sciences found shadow flicker “harmless to humans.” A study commissioned by the Massachusetts Departments of Environmental Protection and Public Health found that according to scientific evidence shadow flicker does not pose a risk for causing seizures.


How does technology create safe wind farms?

THE TRUTH: A fire at a wind turbine is a rare event, and extensive precautions are taken.

  • Photos on the Internet consist of a handful of incidents over decades of operation of hundreds of thousands of turbines around the world.
  • Even such sophisticated equipment, subject to constant motion and sometimes challenging environments, can sometimes fail.
  • Safety measures to prevent fires include systems that change the pitch of blades to prevent over-speed, temperature monitors and automatic shut-off systems to prevent over-heating, lightning protection and arc-flash detection, and remote shut-down.
  • Emergency plans include advance planning and training with local responders.
  • Sensors and data acquisition systems make it possible to analyze why a turbine shuts down or fails. This leads to continuous improvement in technology, operation and maintenance, and very few such failures.


How loud is a wind turbine?

THE TRUTH: Independent studies conducted around the world, including the U.S. have consistently found no evidence that wind farms cause any negative physical health effects.

  • Typically, two people can carry on a conversation at normal voice levels even while standing directly below a turbine.
  • Thousands of people worldwide live near wind farms with no ill effects.
  • Emitting virtually no air or water pollution, wind energy is essential to reducing energy-sector public health impacts.
  • Studies and government health organizations around the world have given wind a clean bill of health. For example, a Massachusetts study found no evidence for a set of health effects from exposure to wind turbines or for the existence what some have tried to characterize as “Wind Turbine Syndrome.”
  • A major study in Canada of over a thousand homes confirmed this again, stating, “No evidence was found to support a link between exposure to wind turbine noise and any of the self-reported illnesses.”
  • Studies have found that a “nocebo” effect can take place, the opposite of the well-known “placebo” effect. The nocebo effect describes a situation in which individuals who are led to expect physical symptoms may actually experience these symptoms, whether or not the supposed cause of the symptoms is actually present. In this case, increased exposure to misinformation about wind actually seems to increase the likelihood that certain individuals will report negative health effects such as headaches or nausea, although no scientific evidence shows wind turbines cause any such health effects.

Contributed By AWEA Blog