Wind Turbines 2018-03-20T07:39:32+00:00

Wind Turbines

Wind Turbines Sounds



Offshore wind turbines at Barrow Offshore Wind off Walney Island in the Irish Sea. Image credit: Andy Dingley

Wind energy (or wind power) refers to the process by which turbines convert the movement of wind into electricity. Wind turbines are built high (80+ m) above the ground or water to take advantage of faster, less turbulent wind than occurs at the surface. Offshore wind power has become one of the fastest growing energy technologies and is the focus of development in many countries around the world. Winds tend to be stronger and more uniform at sea than on land. In addition, there are large, potentially productive areas available offshore. It is predicted that by 2020 10% of Europe’s electricity demand could be met by offshore wind farms[1]Sun, X., Huang, D., & Wu, G. (2012). The current state of offshore wind energy technology development. Energy, 41(1), 298–312. Europe is the global leader in offshore wind power.

Underwater sound is generated during the construction, operation, and decommissioning of offshore wind turbines. Construction of wind turbines involves a variety of activities such as seismic exploration (with airguns), excavation with explosives, dredging, ship and barge operations, and pile-driving. All of these activities produce underwater sounds of varying intensity and duration. As a turbine operates, vibrations inside the nacelle (the housing that contains the generator, gearbox, and other parts) are transmitted down the main shaft of the wind turbine and into its foundation. These vibrations then propagate into the water column and seafloor. Mechanical noise generated by offshore turbines is concentrated at low frequencies below 1kHz, generally below 700 Hz. The level slightly increases as wind speed increases.


  • Evans, P. G. H. (2008). Offshore wind farms and marine mammals: Impacts & methodologies for assessing impacts (No. Proceedings of the ASCOBANS/ECS Workshop on Offshore Wind Farms and Marine Mammals). ECS Special Publication Series No. 49. Retrieved from
  • Kikuchi, R. (2010). Risk formulation for the sonic effects of offshore wind farms on fish in the EU region. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 60(2), 172–177.
  • Leung, D. Y. C., & Yang, Y. (2012). Wind energy development and its environmental impact: A review. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 16(1), 1031–1039.
  • Lindeboom, H. J., Kouwenhoven, H. J., Bergman, M. J. N., Bouma, S., Brasseur, S., Daan, R., … Scheidat, M. (2011). Short-term ecological effects of an offshore wind farm in the Dutch coastal zone; a compilation. Environmental Research Letters, 6(3), 035101.
  • Madsen, P., Wahlberg, M., Tougaard, J., Lucke, K., & Tyack, P. (2006). Wind turbine underwater noise and marine mammals: implications of current knowledge and data needs. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 309, 279–295.
  • Scheidat, M., Tougaard, J., Brasseur, S., Carstensen, J., van Polanen Petel, T., Teilmann, J., & Reijnders, P. (2011). Harbour porpoises ( Phocoena phocoena ) and wind farms: a case study in the Dutch North Sea. Environmental Research Letters, 6(2), 025102.
  • Thompson, P. M., Lusseau, D., Barton, T., Simmons, D., Rusin, J., & Bailey, H. (2010). Assessing the responses of coastal cetaceans to the construction of offshore wind turbines. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 60(8), 1200–1208.
  • Tougaard, J., Madsen, P. T., & Wahlberg, M. (2008). Underwater noise from construction and operation of offshore wind farms. Bioacoustics, 17(1–3), 143–146.
  • Wilson, J. C., Elliott, M., Cutts, N. D., Mander, L., Mendão, V., Perez-Dominguez, R., & Phelps, A. (2010). Coastal and offshore wind energy generation: Is it environmentally benign? Energies, 3(7), 1383–1422.

Cited References   [ + ]

1. Sun, X., Huang, D., & Wu, G. (2012). The current state of offshore wind energy technology development. Energy, 41(1), 298–312.