Radar Interference and Wind Power

Wind turbines whose blades extend high up into the air can seriously affect radar operations. This is a issue which has recently resulted in several wind energy projects being blocked, causing significantly increased costs. Key research initiatives have recently been looking into what mitigation options there are to enable wind farms and radar to operate in synergy, and they, alongside members of the FAA and the DoD, will present their views at the US Wind Energy Project Site Selection Conference in Boston on June 29-30.

One matter that has the potential to cause severe and extremely costly wind farm project delays, at almost any location, is interference with radar. But in order to understand the problem the wind power industry needs to understand what exactly the problem is and how can it be avoided.

The US Department of Defense has identified that wind energy development could negatively impact the US Air Force via electromagnetic interference, flight obstruction, reflection, lighting and frequency / spectrum interference.

The recent blocking of the Shepherds Flat wind farm development is indicative of the fact that, despite frequently grabbing headlines, radar interference is an issue that continues to present a ‘grey’ area for developers.

To avoid such problems Sheri Edgett-Baron, the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Acting OES Manager for Air Traffic and System Operations, explains that wind developers should aim to file planning applications 8-12 months before the project deadline, in order for the FAA to analyze any impacts.

“This will give us time to negotiate changes, if necessary. Impacts and proximity to ground based radars is a huge issue”, explains Edgett-Baron.

Several key research initiatives are examining how best to evaluate mitigation options to further ensure that wind energy deployment & diverse radar mission can work in synergy.

The fact of the matter is that in many cases, radars across the U.S. are simply too old to be modified. However, Sanida National Laboratories, one of the key players in radar mitigation research, is developing a cross cutting suite of options for the wind turbines themselves to tackle this problem.

Jose Zayas, Sandia National Laboratories’ Program Manager explains: “[Sandia National Laboratories is] looking at a set of options that will enable continued deployments of wind energy systems even where currently they are forbidden.”

Join Zayas, Edgett-Baron and members of the U.S. Department of Defense will further discuss, debate and provide expert insight into radar issues at the conference at the end of June in Boston.

This site selection-critical conference will outline up to the minute information on the wind specific regulatory environment, previously unheard of opportunities for the building out of the development and workable strategies to mitigate any unforeseen or potential blocks and / or delays, with key speakers from E.ON, First Wind, enXco, Geronimo Wind, FERC, BLM, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Tetra Tech, Truescape, AWS Truewind and many more.