If you do not live near a wind turbine, it is unlikely you will have ever heard the term ‘shadow flicker’ in everyday usage. The problem however is being discussed fervently by those who reside near onshore wind farms, and the matter is having to be settled by the courts in some cases.
Like all large structures, wind turbines cast a shadow. If one lives near enough to an active wind farm, this shadow may fall on your home at various points of the day. To many homeowners, this in itself is annoying, particularly if they live in rural areas and did not expect to have to deal with shadows falling on their property.
However, this is not the sole concern of those living near an active wind turbine. Unlike almost every other type of structure, wind turbines have three rotating blades. In the case of shadows cast on to a house, these blades themselves cast a shadow. However, the blades are in motion, so the shadow is a constantly moving menace that is extremely disturbing to witness. The constant passing of this shadow can occur for hours per day, and if residents are at home during that time, there is no escape.
Many energy companies refuse to exist shadow flicker is a problem, which has lead to many residents forming action groups. The solution is actually very simple, as shadow flicker will not occur if a turbine is placed 3,000 feet away from the nearest home. However, some energy companies have placed certain turbines as close to residences as 1,100 feet. Many anticipate changes in the law will prevent this from happening again, based on the evidence presented by annoyed existing residents who have to live with shadow flicker.