Turbine-proof radar to help wind power expansion

New radar technology designed to cut out interference from wind turbine blades, which could open up a series of potential new sites for wind farms, is being tested as the RAF conduct trial flights over four wind farms in Wales.

If successful, the technology will put an end to objections from the MOD whenever wind farms are proposed in the line of sight of air traffic control radars.

The flights will test two technologies – the Advanced Digital Tracker designed by BAE Systems and the Sensic SPE-3000 processor from Italian-based company Selex S.I. – in conjunction with the MOD’s “mobile watchman” radar.

The goal is to overcome interference from wind turbine blades blocking and reflecting the radar signal. A range of RAF aircraft will fly over various types of wind turbine at four Welsh wind farms – Bryn Titli, P & L (Llandinam), Cefn Croes and Carno A & B – to test the performance of the technology in a range of circumstances.

Energy minister Malcolm Wicks said: “The Government wants 10% of our electricity to come from renewable sources by 2010 and double that by 2020, with wind energy set to make a major contribution. There are still hurdles to be overcome but one by one we are knocking down the barriers that could prevent us reaching that target.

“Overcoming the complex and challenging issue of radar interference will increase our options. This interference is a problem that has to be overcome all over the world and the pioneering work being done in Wales puts the UK at the forefront of the technology, with the inherent business benefits that can bring.”

Chris Tomlinson, director of operations at BWEA, commented: “All parties are investing resources in pursuit of these potential solutions that would allow the UK to expand renewable delivery to combat climate change and secure our energy supplies, while aviation safety and security remains paramount.

“This is an exciting time with all stakeholders eagerly awaiting the outcome of the trials, which if successful, will be a key factor in securing a 20% renewable energy target by 2020.”

Goska Romanowicz

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