Wind power and air transport are being helped to coexist through a decision by air traffic controllers that opens the door to an expansion of green energy.
National Air Traffic Services (NATS) has agreed to modify two radar systems so that they are free from any potential interference from wind farm turbines. The contract for the work with Raytheon has just been announced and NATS intends the project to be complete within two years.
“The timing is quite interesting,” notes ATDI managing director Peter Paul. “Mindful that the original discussions about this took place in 2008, there are voices in the industry who have suggested that the modifications should already be operational. But, I am aware that NATS has only recently found a funding source for the work.
“The most important aspect, though, is that NATS’ willingness to undertake these modifications removes another stumbling block to the growth of wind farms and that is something ATDI has felt strongly about since our first involvement with the green energy sector many years ago.”
ATDI has worked extensively with wind farm developers to ensure proposed new turbines pass smoothly through the local planning process. Objectors regularly cite the fact that the rotation of the turbine tips can make nearby radars show a false position for aircraft through the generation of clutter. ATDI’s work has involved planning and modelling the proposed wind farms to establish whether they do actually have a potential to cause interference. If the farm does not have an impact, ATDI’s definitive statement of the fact has been valuable to developers in their discussions with planning officials; if the new development could have an effect on radar systems, ATDI has presented a range of mitigation techniques.
“The modification of the affected radars is one option that is always available to obviate problems,” Peter comments. “Clearly, NATS feels that is worth doing to pave the way for the next generation of green energy.”
The contract to complete the modifications follows last month’s agreement between NATS and developers SSE and Vattenfall to fund the work; NATS estimates the modifications will unlock up to 2.2GW of potential new wind energy across the UK.
Andy Sage, NATS head of information, says: “Once we secured the funding for the work, we wanted to move as soon as possible to delivery because we know how important this is to the wind industry and in helping the UK meet its renewable energy targets.”