In an effort to be more ecologically friendly, coal- and gas-fired power facilities are being replaced by cleaner, renewable energy sources like wind and solar.
You’ve probably seen solar farms popping up around your town or city. People are putting up solar panels on their roofs.
They’re a great way to harness the power of the sun and turn it into renewable energy. Although this is good for the environment and our wallets, some individuals are wary of solar farms.
It is natural that concerns will be voiced as this relatively new technology becomes more prevalent in any country’s energy mix as utility-scale solar projects and solar farms proliferate around the globe. One of the concerns that people have about solar farms is whether or not they produce noise.
This concern might be due to the wind turbines. For the majority of people, wind turbines are the first thing that springs to mind when the words noise and renewable energy are combined.
Countries using wind turbines as a clean energy source are facing some issues regarding the noise they make. Because of this, it serves as a useful benchmark for discussing noise levels of other clean energy sources.
So, do solar farms really make that much noise? Let’s take a closer look.
What Are Solar Farms and What Do They Do?
Solar farms are large arrays of solar panels used to collect solar energy. The panels track the sun as it moves across the sky to collect as much energy as possible.
Once the solar energy is collected, it is converted into usable electricity. Then, this electricity is used to run houses, businesses, and whatnot.
Solar farms, also known as solar parks or photovoltaic power plants, can be any size and shape and are typically mounted to the ground rather than on rooftops.
How Much Noise Is Generated by Solar Farms?
Solar farms are quickly becoming a more common fixture all around the world. You may have seen them while driving down the highway—long, uninterrupted rows of solar panels that seem to go on for miles. So, how much noise do these farms usually generate?
As it turns out, solar farms are incredibly quiet. In fact, according to a study conducted by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), they generate less noise than a residential neighborhood. The study found that the average noise level from a solar farm is less than 40 decibels (dB)—about the same as a refrigerator humming in the background.
That’s not to say that they’re completely silent, however. If you’re standing close to a solar farm, you may be able to hear a faint humming noise.
But overall, they’re much quieter than you might expect.
Does the Noise Have an Environmental Impact?
The short answer is: yes, solar farms do make noise, and it’s something you should take into account if you’re thinking of buying or leasing a solar farm.
However, the good news is that the noise levels are generally well below what’s considered to be harmful. In most cases, they’re also much lower than the noise levels from traditional coal or gas-fired power plants.
That said, it’s still important to do your homework before you buy or lease a solar farm. Make sure you understand how much noise the farm will make and what kind of environmental impact it could have.
What Kind of Materials Are Used in Solar Farms?
Solar farms use a variety of materials to function. Photovoltaic cells, inverters, wires, tracking frames, and more are all necessary.
Various metals are used to construct the racks that keep the solar panels in place, these metals include aluminum and steel. Additionally, some solar farms use natural materials such as soil or vegetation for ground cover.
All of the materials used need to be able to handle varying degrees of weather and terrain so they can be operated for a long time without damage or breakdown.
Which Part Is Responsible for Making Noise?
The noise sounds like a tonal humming and primarily comes from the transformers and inverters. Longer wavelength sounds are produced as a result of the low frequency.
According to the study, an inverter, which can produce a faint humming noise, cannot be heard from 500 feet away. Since these inverters are positioned close to the middle of the panel array rather than the perimeter, noise from outside the solar farm is unlikely to be audible.
Is It Possible to Reduce the Noise Produced by a Solar Farm?
Yes, it is possible to reduce the noise produced by a solar farm. There are several ways to do this, such as acoustically treating the ground surface and providing noise barriers around the site.
Other techniques can also be used such as sound baffles, insulation, and acoustic absorption. These measures can help reduce sound levels in and around the farm.
Additionally, investing in quieter solar inverters or designing a system with fewer panels can also help reduce noise levels.
Are There Any Other Benefits Associated with Solar Farms?
In addition to the environmental benefits associated with the production of green energy, solar farms can also bring huge economic and social benefits to a community. For example, in some rural areas, solar farms have been shown to be an effective way to create new jobs, stimulate economic growth and attract private investment.
Moreover, solar farms can also reduce noise pollution, as they act as noise barriers when placed between roads and residential areas. The panels absorb sound waves and vibration, making them an effective solution for soundproofing homes and businesses.
Not only that, but they can also be aesthetically pleasing—with their vibrant colors and the natural reflections of the sun’s rays on the panels forming unique patterns that can add an interesting visual element to a neighborhood. In fact, many people find them beautiful in an unexpected way!
Solar farms are a relatively new concept, and there are a lot of misconceptions about them. As solar energy becomes more and more popular, it’s important to address these concerns and set the record straight. Solar farms are not noisy, and they do not harm the environment.