Wind Turbines have never been far from the headlines and remain a controversial development within most landscapes. ETSU R-97 and published good practice guides exist to present methods of assessing the level of noise impact of turbines and to determine the cause and effect of phenomena such as amplitude modulation noise at nearby noise residential properties.
Photovoltaic (PV) cells may offer an alternative renewable energy source, however, the seemingly quiet PV Solar arrays that we see lined up in fields alongside the roadways have a hidden noise source. The inverter stations convert the DC output from the solar panel to AC and use a transformer to step up the voltage to enable transmission of the energy to the grid. This process generates heat, a lot of heat, which needs to be managed and extracted from the inverter station using top mounted fan systems.
Normally, these fan systems will operate unnoticed but on occasion the inverter stations have been poorly positioned, often to enable simple access and maintenance, and has resulted in the noise being detectable at nearby properties leading to complaint and subsequent investigation by Environmental Health Officers. Fan noise may contain tonal elements and typically operate intermittently which makes their presence in the environment more noticeable, this attracts an additional +5dB penalty when applying British Standard 4142 and is often sufficient to result in an outcome where complaints from nearby residents may be considered as ‘likely’.
Local Authorities are starting to recognise the importance of good landscape planning and positioning of the inverter stations at the early stages of PV solar array projects. Soundguard Acoustics has used and applied BS4142 for a number of PV Solar Array projects within the UK and has worked closely with the developer at every stage of the project. We can offer prediction of noise impact at nearby noise sensitive properties and help the developer to determine the orientation and position of inverter units to avoid the likelihood of complaint and ensure that noise does not become a reason for the refusal of planning.
If you would like further support with your PV solar project or would like further advice in assessing or correcting PV solar project noise problems then please contact us.