12 May 2022
12 May 2022
Status: this preprint is open for discussion.

Ground motion emissions due to wind turbines: observations, acoustic coupling, and attenuation relationships

Laura Gaßner and Joachim Ritter Laura Gaßner and Joachim Ritter
  • Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Geophysical Institute, Hertzstraße 16, 76187 Karlsruhe, Germany

Abstract. Emissions from wind turbines (WT) cover a wide range of infrasound and ground motions. Some of these emissions are perceived by local residents and can become a source of disturbance or annoyance. To mitigate such disturbances, it is necessary to better understand and, if possible, suppress WT-induced emissions. Within the project Inter-Wind we record and analyze ground motion signals in the vicinity of two wind farms on the Swabian Alb in Southern Germany, simultaneously with acoustic and meteorological measurements, as well as psychological surveys done by cooperating research groups. The investigated wind farms consist of three and sixteen WTs, respectively, and are located on the Alb peneplain at 700–800 m height, approximately 300 m higher than the municipalities. The main aim is to better understand reasons why residents may be affected from WT immissions, based on interdisciplinary data, methods, and expertise.

Known ground motions include vibrations due to eigen modes of the WT tower and blades, and the interaction between the passing blade and the tower, causing signals at constant frequencies below 12 Hz. In addition, we observe signals in ground motion recordings at frequencies up to 90 Hz which are proportional to the blade-passing frequency. We can correlate these signals with acoustic recordings and estimate sound pressure to ground motion coupling transfer coefficients of 3–16.5. Sources for these emissions are the WT generator and possibly the gearing box. The identification of such noise sources can help to design potential counter-measures in order to increase the public acceptance of WTs. The measurements in the municipalities indicate that WTs are perceived more in the location where the wind farm is closer to the municipality (approx. 1 km). However, there is also a major railway line which produces higher vibration and infrasound signal amplitudes compared to the WTs.

Along the measurement lines the decay rate of the WT-induced ground motions is determined for a damping relation proportional to 1 / rb. We find frequency-dependent b-values for different scenarios at our geological setting of Jurassic limestone on marl, sandstone, and Quaternary deposits. These damping relationships can be used to estimated emissions in the far- field and to plan mitigation strategies.

Laura Gaßner and Joachim Ritter

Status: open (until 23 Jun 2022)

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Laura Gaßner and Joachim Ritter

Laura Gaßner and Joachim Ritter


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Short summary
In this work we analyze signals emitted from wind turbines. They induce sound as well as ground motion waves which propagate through the subsurface and are registered by sensible instruments. In our data we observe when these signals are present and how strong they are. Some signals are present in ground motion and sound data, providing the opportunity to study similarities and better characterize emissions. Furthermore, we study the amplitudes with distance to improve the prediction of signals.