Lockheed Martin radars could unlock 8 GW of wind energy

Up to 8GW of wind power farms stuck in the planning system could be given the go-ahead as part of a government and industry commitment to replace three old RAF radar systems stretching from the Greater Wash to southern Scotland.

New Lockheed Martin long-range radars, costing about £20m each, are expected to replace old systems at Staxton Wold, North Yorkshire, Brizlee Wood, Northumberland, and RAF Trimingham, Norfolk, a DECC spokesman told BusinessGreen.

Giggawatts of wind farm proposals currently face military aviation objections because the spinning blades interfere with the radar and prevent them from working effectively.

Turbines cause clutter on the screens, meaning radar operators struggle to distinguish between real aircraft and wind turbines both on and offshore.

The spokesman said that following trials, tests and installation, which would be completed no sooner than 2012, the Lockheed Martin radars would be located at three RAF sites, potentially paving the way for up to 8GW of wind power.

‘It is difficult to say how many wind farms may be affected; however, the developers involved have earlier estimated that up to roughly 6-8GW of military aviation objections (onshore and offshore) could be lifted by the deployment of these three radar, dependent on final technical and commercial decisions,’ he said.

The Ministry of Defence confirmed that the purchase of a Lockheed Martin TPS-77 3D long-range radar for Brizlee Wood will be announced in the coming weeks.