Improved radar systems could lead to more wind applications

Written by Neil Evans on 29 September 2014 in News

Solution to "wind turbine clutter" key hurdle for operators

New radar systems could open the door to more applications for wind turbines near airports, a leading manufacturer has said.

The impact of ‘wind turbine clutter’ on radar has been a difficult hurdle for renewable energy operators to overcome when looking for sites and has meant applications for sites near airports have been rejected in the planning process.

However, David Lysack, President of US firm C-Speed, said new technology designed to mitigate clutter is effective and the matter now is who funds the installations.

C Speed, which has developed its Lightwave Radar  over the last 11 years of operating in the UK, was involved in mitigating radar problems for the building of the UK’s largest wind farm at Whitelee. 

The company has trialled its new technology at Manston Airport in Kent, which was the nearest airport to Vattenfall’s Kentish Flats offshore wind farm up until the site was shut down earlier this year. 

Lysack said: “In the past developers chose sites that did not have this as an issue. 

“There are many other issues in putting up wind turbines, but if you had the aviation issue, it kind of was a death mark for you, so they would move to other sites or look for other ways to mitigate.

“We were involved in the Kincardine radar, which removed the objections so Whitelee could be built. We built the radar and placed it behind a hill – but you can’t find hills everywhere and it is expensive. 

“We’re going to see in the next short order that technology like ours will come to market and begin removing the wind turbine clutter issue. It is an opportune time. We’re very active in the United States, and being evaluated by our own Department of Defense for installations around the US.”

Earlier this year the Ministry of Defence dropped planning restrictions on planning for wind turbines around the Eskdalemuir nuclear test monitoring facility in Scotland, which had been based on concerns over noise and ground vibrations. 

The ruling saw developers reconsidering  previous plans or considering new ones for the region – which stretches across Dumfries and Galloway, South Lanarkshire, Ayrshire and Cumbria.

Similarly, Lysack said he expected there would be a “flurry of activity” from interested developers, but he added: “If there is a known aviation issue, all the other people who have issues keep quiet, they don’t say anything. They stand behind the aviation issue. They don’t waste their breath or their money or energy on objecting because aviation is a trump card..

He said:  “I think we will see a swarm of more applications because people aren’t going to invest a lot in the process if they know there’s an issue with one wind farm and theirs is only a couple of miles away or in the same area. 

“If an objection is removed or consent granted, it will then spur a flurry of activity but it will also spur more activity in these other issues that will now be in full view, such as birds, or dark sky.”  

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