UK Unveils Radar-Friendly Wind Turbine Research Project

20 October 2009 (Last Updated October 20th, 2009 18:30)

The British Government has unveiled a new £5.15m research project that will mitigate wind turbine impact on radar signals and address concerns that wind farms disrupt air traffic control systems. Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband addressing the British Wind Energy Associat

The British Government has unveiled a new £5.15m research project that will mitigate wind turbine impact on radar signals and address concerns that wind farms disrupt air traffic control systems.

Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband addressing the British Wind Energy Association (BWEA) conference in Liverpool said that the new project could resolve wind turbine's impact on radar in the UK and release nearly 5GW of wind power.

The 19-month R&D project will investigate ways to minimise the impact of wind turbines on the NATS En Route primary radar infrastructure.

The project will examine the viability of various hardware and software technologies including coating of wind turbines with a material similar to the one used to produce Stealth Bombers invisible to radars.

Radar displays detect wind turbines, which can distract air traffic controllers. Consequently, offshore wind farm developments are opposed by civil and military air traffic control bodies.

Aviation opposition is currently stopping over 5GW of wind energy in the planning system and an additional 5.5GW in the early development phase.

Several wind farm projects have been given tentative authorisation on the understanding that a technological solution to the radar interference problem can be established.

DECC said that if the new research project is successful the conditions on these projects could be removed and work can commence immediately.

The research project will be carried out by radar technology specialist Raytheon Canada and air traffic control operator NATS (formerly National Air Traffic Services).

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) will contribute £1.55m, the Aviation Investment Fund Company £1.6m, and Crown Estate £2m for the project.

The research will be completed in April 2011.