The range of 50 to 60 decibels has been described as the noise in a typical house or office building. The SWI used the International Electrotechnical Commission standards for acoustic emission measurement techniques as much as possible for this work. Our study shows that noise from small wind turbines typically tracks the ambient noise fairly closely. Except during high winds, gusting conditions, and while furling, turbines can barely be heard above the ambient wind noise. The amount of time during the year when they exceed the 60-decibel limit being adopted by many communities is less than 1 percent at our very windy site.
Another educational goal of the project has been to identify the owners of windy land, and provide them with the information and tools necessary to take advantage of small-scale wind power. A total of 16,000 property owners in our region were identified as having Class 3 or higher wind resources.
A postcard was developed with a brief note indicating that our research has led us to believe that the recipient owns land with good wind resources on it. The card also provides:
We have been contacted by more than 100 of the postcard recipients for additional information. While the numbers are still small, we hope that a seed has been planted that will eventually motivate those with good wind resources in western North Carolina to learn more about wind energy and to adopt the technology.
The Small Wind Initiative has created a research and demonstration facility, raised community awareness, contacted owners of windy property, reached out to key decision-makers statewide, established a nationally respected training program, and conducted wind measurements with the hope of increasing the level of acceptance and understanding of wind power in the Southeast. In doing so, the Small Wind Initiative has given hundreds of people the opportunity to experience wind-electric technology firsthand.
Investing in a wind energy system is generally not a step most landowners can make immediately—many may even think about it for years before they make a decision. The education and information provided by the SWI are expected to continue impacting the wind industry and North Carolina’s energy portfolio far into the future.