As the world grows more aware of climate change and its consequences, private companies and governments are more eager to explore green and sustainable energy sources. Currently, there’s a shift in interest from coal- and gas-fired power plants to environment-friendly alternatives like wind, thermal, and solar energy farms.
Unfortunately wind energy production can cause noise pollution for nearby residential and commercial hubs. As such, many favor solar energy production because it generates far less noise. Although more quiet than wind farms, solar farms can still cause noise pollution, meaning there is still a need for noise mitigation solutions.
Solar Farms Can Cause Noise Pollution
At first glance, solar farms appear quieter because there are no large, moving parts like turbines or water pumps, only photovoltaic (PV) or solar panels above rooftops or on open fields.
What many don’t immediately see are the inverters, which are essential in solar power production. Inverters convert the direct current (DC) electrical power collected in the solar panels into alternating-current (AC) power, which powers electrical appliances and gadgets. Solar power farms must convert DC into AC power to distribute electricity to the local grid, and it is this conversion process that generates noise pollution.
Inverters rapidly switch polarities to achieve an AC power cycle of 60 hertz or 60 cycles per second. As a result, it creates a tonal sound of 120 hertz with harmonics reaching 240, 360, 480 hertz, or higher.
Movements in other mechanical components in the inverter and transformer, like coil vibrations and high-speed cooling fans, contribute to the body and level of noise.
Why Is Solar Farm Noise Mitigation Important?
Solar farm noise reduction is a necessity for many reasons:
- Minimizing Noise Levels
Energy production plants are rarely close to residential areas. Solar power farms need large spaces unobstructed by trees, buildings, and other infrastructure, so they are often built on the outskirts. However, there is still a need for solar farm noise mitigation. There is a growing demand today now that countries are exploring more creative ways of keeping solar energy production near major cities. Europe’s solar highways, which feature PV cells on the side barriers, are an example.
Installing a solar farm noise barrier around noise-generating machinery ensures zero disruption to the surrounding environment and any residential or business properties nearby.
- Compliance with OSHA regulations
Solar farms are responsible for ensuring a safe working environment, not only for the benefit of nearby communities but also for their workers and employees.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration or OSHA sets legal limits on noise exposure in the workplace to ensure workers’ health and well-being. The OSHA Occupational Noise Exposure standard states that the permissible exposure limit (PEL) for any workplace is 90 dBA over an eight-hour day.
Noise exposure is often inevitable, so what this standard means is that the maximum noise level – the safety threshold – for employees who stay in the workplace for eight straight hours is 90 dBA.
If the noise exceeds this level or employees have to stay in the workplace longer than eight hours, the farm will violate this code. As such, solar farm sound attenuation is crucial for the on-site workers’ welfare and the continued operation of the solar farm.
- Gaining public support
The public looks favorably on sustainable energy production, and it benefits solar farms to have the support of the community. However, unnecessary conflict can arise when locals develop grievances against a power production plant. Further, there might be legal discourse about how the presence of a solar farm affects a community’s desirability and real estate value.
Investing in effective and long-lasting solar farm noise reduction solutions is worth the long-term peace and approval of the public.
Achieving Solar Farm Sound Attenuation With a Sound Barrier Wall
The conventional way of soundproofing inverters and other machinery is to surround them with high walls made of metal, wood, concrete, or PVC. These roofless enclosures provide visual and sound barriers to reduce noise pollution. Unfortunately, they either do not absorb sound, contain known carcinogenic chemicals, or succumb to long-term corrosion.
Sound Fighter Systems achieves Solar Farm substation sound attenuation by building sound walls using expertly-designed, sound-absorbing panels.
You can enjoy far better results from a solar farm sound barrier wall built with materials that absorb sound waves instead of deflecting them.
At Sound Fighter Systems, we offer a solution for this with our patented Absorptive Noise Barrier System is perfect for a solar farm noise barrier.
- Significant noise reduction by 15-20 decibels
- Durable (lasts for decades)
- Competitively priced
- Flexible and customizable
These barriers are made from Fiber Reinforced Products (FRP) with UV coatings and are tried and tested to absorb and not reflect sound. A solar farm noise barrier by Sound Fighter Systems can also mitigate many other outdoor noise applications including electrical substations, garages, or loading docks.
We are happy to give additional information on the applications of our sound walls. Our technicians can also custom-design functional barriers with doors or vents to accommodate mobility or ventilation needs while ensuring maximum solar farm noise reduction. If you’re interested, contact Sound Fighter Systems today.