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New radar technology could double number of UK wind farms

UK company proves how new radar can mask wind turbines from air traffic controllers, opening path for capacity growth

New technology has been developed to remove wind turbines from the air traffic control system radar. (Source: Aveillant)

By Nilima Choudhury

A new radar system could double the number of wind farms across the UK and will allay safety concerns over installing turbines near airports and military bases. 

UK technology company Aveillant has successfully completed a live demonstrations of its 3D Holographic Radar which removes wind turbines from air traffic control system radars with no degradation to radar performance.

Wind turbines can appear on airport radars, complicating the job of traffic controllers.

Green energy body RenewableUK says around 2,700 turbine applications have been held up due to aviation safety fears. It says if those objections are removed the number of wind farms in the UK could be doubled.

“Airports have a statutory right and obligation to protect the safe operation of the airport so any kind of construction work that people want to do in the vicinity of the airport, they have to be notified,” David Crisp, chief executive of Aveillant told RTCC.

This week, the Royal Air Force lodged a complaint with the Scottish government opposing the construction of wind turbines to the south of its Moray base, claiming they could put fast jet pilots’ lives at risk.

The technology

Originally developed for military applications, it has taken the company two years to adapt it to civilian use.

“Our CTO Gordon Oswald has been working on examining the Antarctic ice pack using radar from aircraft and satellites so he’s taken that technology and applied it to this problem,” said Crisp.

He said that unlike airport radar, Availlant’s Holographic Radar spots aircraft three-dimensionally which allows it to spot the difference between wind turbines and aircraft.

“The problem with wind farms is that to airport radar it looks like an aircraft. It’s because an airport radar is two-dimensional – it detects an aircraft and it tells the airport how far away the aircraft is and in what direction – what it doesn’t do is tell the airport the altitude.”

Aveillant is also offering a cost-effective payment method to wind farm developers to help alleviate any financial concerns.

The company is not planning to sell the equipment but rather lease it out to developers at a price dependent on the megawatts deployed and location of the wind farm.

“What we’ve been financed to do is to manufacture, install our radar units and return ownership. So we’ll finance the deployment and we will then charge a fee to the wind farm developer for mitigating the radar interference they cause the wind farm,” said Crisp.

The company’s unique selling point is that the technology is scalable – developers can decide what sizes they need in order to reduce costs further.

“At Availlent we’ve gone back to basics with radar. We’re hoping it’ll be available by the end of the year.”

 

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