Monday, December 6, 2010


New developments benefiting mankind cannot come without some sacrifice and modern day living especially in urban areas is at best a compromise between what is unavoidable and what is ideal! Take the example of pollution which is a serious concern, whether it comes from air, water, light or sound and there are standards set up for compliance by all the countries. How ever how far these standards are implemented is some thing about which citizens are seriously concerned. Alternate energy generation is considered inevitable due to the fast running out of fossil fuels which have supported the industrial revolution that led to high quality of life in many countries. Amongst the many possibilities for energy generation that can ensure sustainability, wind mill technology stands out as one of the best options in places where wind velocity is adequate to run turbines and many countries in Europe, China, India, the US etc are all sparing no effort to establish the viability of wind power.

Any new technology, if to succeed, must be economically viable and socially acceptable. While wind power projects are heavily subsidized in many countries to make the energy produced compete favorably with fossil fuel energy, long term viability is still a matter of conjecture. Added to this uncertainty, what ever little has been achieved in this area seems to be in jeopardy because of social factors and many communities near wind mill locations are expressing reservation about the real impact of these projects. How ever the opposition to wind mills has not yet reached any significant level and proponents of wind power feel that many complaints are just not sustainable when a reality check is made. Some of the criticisms leveled include high noise generation during the night disturbing the sleep pattern of community nearby, ruining of the landscape, adverse effect on real estate value, harming the bird population and physiological impact on human body due to noise pollution.

Rapid heart beat, nausea, blurred vision caused by ultra low frequency sound vibrations are some of the claims made against operation of wind mills but so far not even a single piece of scientific evidence has emerged to prove the adverse health effect from the noise generated. According to experts a wind mill does not produce noise beyond 45 decibels (dB), less than what a house-hold refrigerator generates. Even normal conversation can raise the dB levels to as high as 50-60, a ticking clock can produce 30 dB noise, a sports car about 80-95 dB, car horns about 90-100 dB while those staying near air ports can experience noise levels as high as 120dB. There is a mistaken perception that the turbines in the wind mill system is responsible for the noise where as in reality the huge blades, measuring more than 100 ft, made of fiber glass or plastics, reinforced with carbon fiber produce the howling noise while rotating against the wind. If it were the turbines, possibility of noise dampening techniques could have been explored to reduce the noise levels.

Wind mills invite objections mostly during night operations when even small sound appears amplified due to the silent background that exists at that period because of minimum human activity. Solutions like shutting of the plant during nights or reducing the speed of the rotating fans are not considered practical even if one wants to satisfy the critics because that will make the operations cost prohibitive. This is where sacrifice is really called for that can benefit the country or the region through greater energy production with no green house gas emissions. Agricultural Food processing industries are known to be big energy guzzlers and if their operations are not to be curtailed, adequate power supply must be ensured. If unfortunate and uninformed popular sentiments prevent further progress in harnessing this clean technology, ultimate loser will the humanity at large.


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