Radar’s Up on the UK Wind Power Horizon

Issues with navigational radar, with respect to wind farms, still seem be a development hurdle in the UK. Now the British Royal Society has stepped into the fray, warning that if the UK Government’s renewable energy targets could be missed if the Defense (MoD) continues to oppose wind farm developments.

London, UK – March 5, 2004 [SolarAccess.com] BWEA said they welcome the intervention by the Royal Society in raising the “critical issue that Government’s renewable energy targets may be at risk if the Ministry of Defense (MoD) continues to oppose wind farm developments.” Last year, MoD objected to 413 of the 861 pre-application wind farm proposals submitted (48%), an increase on the three previous years (see Figure 1). Furthermore, the response time to developer inquiries from MoD has risen to 6 months as opposed to the target three weeks. “Both military and civil aviation stakeholders are adopting an onerous precautionary principle which continues to severely constrain wind projects both on and offshore,” Chris Tomlinson, BWEA’s Head of Onshore Wind, said. “While BWEA is encouraged by recent moves by MoD to address the issue, the real difficulty is overcoming institutional hurdles to persuade them to move wind energy up the agenda and increase its profile. Indeed, the secret to resolving this issue ultimately lies with the MoD and Department of Transport taking a more active role and becoming genuinely committed to finding a technical solution. The Transport Secretary and Secretary of State for Defense have remained very quiet on this issue, but it remains a classic opportunity for “joined-up government” to help deliver their own targets, an opportunity which has been missed so far.” BWEA is encouraging the commissioning of studies to assess advanced radar filters such as the AMS Advanced Digital Tracker which, while expensive, may provide a substantial step towards a solution in many areas. BWEA continues to look for other technical solutions, but is at a disadvantage as those better equipped with knowledge and expertise on radar issues remain within the military and civil aviation field. To date, progress into the wind and aviation issue has been led by the Wind Energy and Aviation Interests Steering Group. Established in 2001, the group is composed of the wind industry and aviation stakeholders with a remit to resolve the problem. However, the BWEA said the committee has spent more than two years trying to understand why one can see turbines on radar but now runs the risk of drifting unless fresh impetus is injected into the process by the key aviation stakeholders to find a solution to the problem. “We do not believe that the Steering Group (chaired by DTI) is going to unlock this issue to any significant degree with its current work program,” Tomlinson said. “The focus needs to be clearly on opening up technical mitigation solutions to deal with radar concerns.”

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