Thousands of wind turbines stuck in the planning system because of fears they will disturb air traffic will be able to ahead thanks to a new technology.
Up to 2,500 turbines have been refused planning permission in recent years because the wind turbines in motion can mimic the spinning blades of jets, causing havoc on an air traffic controller’s radar screen. Both air defence and passenger jets are effected.
However a new technology solves this problem by using a more sensitive radar that can tell the difference between wind turbines and aeroplanes. The data is fed back to air traffic control ensuring the correct information is known about the area where there are wind farms.
Ray Edgson, Ventures Director at Cambridge Consultants that helped bring forward the new technology, said the radars will be available to wind farms by 2013.
He claimed that the ‘Aveillant’ technology is much cheaper than the current radars being tested by military that have to cover a much wider area around the wind farm.
“The unique radar offering is a result of our extensive work with aviation and wind energy stakeholders to create a technical solution which fully meets their requirements,” he said.
The Department of Energy and Climate Change and The Ministry of Defence, that were integral to the develoment of the technology, are now supporting its transmission to commercial use.
This means that many communities who thought wind farms could not be built in their area face the threat of turbines being built on their doorstep afterall.
But Anne Crowther, National Association for Windfarm Action Groups, said groups will not give up the fight.
“Problems with air traffic control and air defence is rarely the only issue,” she said. “Groups will continue on other grounds like the effect on landscape and noise.”
Dr John Constable, Director of the Renewable Energy Foundation, questioned the cost of the new equipment.
“This is an interesting development, but the key question is who has to pay for a radar solution that is only required in order to build wind farms. Since the wind power potentially unlocked by this technology would, over its lifetime, earn several billion pounds in subsidy drawn from consumer bills it would be adding insult to injury to ask the public to stump up for the radar too.”
DECC welcomed any new technology.
A spokesman said: “DECC has worked with developers and others to fund research and development into technical solutions to upgrade radar and mitigate the problems caused by windfarms.”