At Resonate Consultants, we are committed to being different. This commitment extends across client relations, elements of collaboration, pursuing innovation and even the
services we offer.
One such service is that of focusing on Australian renewable energy projects. From solar farms and battery energy storage system (BESS) work to new transmission lines, we provide specialist acoustic engineering and vibration services across the renewables space. Having ‘…more than doubled the amount of renewable energy since 2017…’ and with an aim ‘…to increase the share of low-carbon power generation by 2030 – with 82% to come from renewable energy…’ there is a significant need for acoustic consultants to work with designers at a planning stage to ensure renewable energy projects can be developed in a manner that appropriately controls noise emissions
Onshore and offshore wind farms
One aspect of renewables is wind farms, which are a vital producer of renewable energy in Australia. As one of the leading companies in onshore wind farm noise, the Resonate Consultants team is currently working on proposed projects in all Australian states. In addition, sizeable offshore renewables zones are being investigated in the Newcastle region of New South Wales and the Gippsland area of Victoria.
As experts in the field, each aspect of onshore and offshore wind energy noise is carefully considered. With onshore wind farm noise, consideration needs to be given to the surrounding environment to ensure appropriate noise levels in residential areas during both construction and operation.
With offshore wind, the location is far enough away that wind turbine noise on land is typically a secondary concern. However, significant thought needs to be given to the local marine fauna due to noise during construction in particular. ‘Underwater acoustics is another area we specialise in,’ Tom Evans, Director of Consulting, explained. ‘We have the knowledge to not only understand the risks but also identify practical measures for mitigation,’ he added.
As marine mammals rely on sound to communicate and find prey, disruptions may interfere with this communication, alter behaviour or, at very high levels, even cause deafness. ‘During construction, we recommend starting with an assessment of the impact zone. This way, we can understand the impact we are looking at for the identified marine fauna in the area,’ Tom said.
From there, measures such as marine mammal spotters, soft starts and even physical techniques like bubble curtains are implemented to reduce the transmission noise from activities such as piling. ‘Mitigation is essentially working out what combination of those techniques is best suited to the project at hand,’ Tom explained.
Battery energy storage systems (BESS)
With an eye to the future, Resonate Consultants is also proud to work on a multitude of different projects in this sector. ‘Australia is going through a major change, and it’s not
going to be one form of energy going forward. We will need wind and solar and to support that, BESS,’ Tom said.
While not traditionally thought of as noisy, there are different aspects of BESS that need to be accounted for. For example, batteries actually have significant cooling systems, which are known to emit noise levels that can require careful consideration and assessment during the design stage. As more BESS suppliers come into the market, ‘there is a real opportunity to emphasise to these suppliers that there is value in noise control and reducing the noise emitted by the batteries in the first place,’ Tom noted.
In projects such as the Tamworth BESS and Philip Island Community Energy Storage System (PICESS), our team has undertaken noise and vibration assessments for construction and operation, specified mitigation measures and undertaken commissioning monitoring.
Projects such as Tamworth and PICESS are critical for the transition of Australia’s electricity system to Net Zero by 2050. ‘We really are focused on using our skillset to help the world move to a less carbon-intensive future in a way that minimises noise and vibration impacts on the local community,’ Tom explained.
Transmission lines and corona noise
As such, our skillset also extends to consulting on the development of new transmission infrastructure. Currently, energy infrastructure in Australia has transmission lines that were set up for a now outdated energy system. To enable a renewables-based energy system to succeed, new transmission infrastructure is required to connect areas with renewables potential to major customers, as well as to allow more efficient transmission between states.
To ensure that energy can be transmitted around the grid effectively and efficiently, our organisation has been working on transmission projects such as Project Energy Connect and the Eyre Peninsula Link. Resonate delivered the construction and operational noise assessment for the EIS for Project Energy Connect, which was approved by the South Australian Government and commenced construction in 2022.
From a noise perspective, new transmission lines have the potential to emit what is known as corona noise, which is a hissing or crackling sound caused by the implosion of ionised water droplets in the air. ‘With corona noise, it can occur in humid or rainy conditions. Firstly, there are compliance issues with noise limits to consider. Secondly, while it does not normally happen all the time, in certain situations, it can be noticeable to nearby individuals’ Tom reported.
‘Mitigating and minimising corona noise should be accounted for in the design of the transmission infrastructure,’ Tom explained. Options include using corona rings to distribute the charge across a wider area or artificially aging the components, as older insulators tend to create less corona noise. ‘Understanding corona noise as a risk comes down to having early involvement, so you ideally want to bring us onto the project in the design phase to inform mitigation to be incorporated into the electrical design,’ Tom added.
Combining this broad depth of technical expertise with a genuine passion for providing communities with properly designed Australian renewable energy support infrastructure means that we can cover the entire gamut when it comes to projects associated with renewables. ‘We’ve invested a lot of research into this area as well as writing technical papers, so we truly understand the constraints the industry is facing and how to provide a complete set of services for all forms of renewable energy infrastructure,’ Tom said.