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UK company tests solution to wind tech's radar problem

Holographic radar approach could help mitigation aviation interference seen as a downside of wind farms.
Written by Heather Clancy, Contributor on

Anyone who follows renewable energy technologies has read about controversies surrounding wind turbines. Noise and aesthetics are one thing you hear about a lot, as towns protest projects on social and cultural grounds. Their potential to mess interfere with the air around them also continues to perplex researchers, who are still trying to explain bat fatalities associated with wind farms. Then there's radar.

The adverse effects of wind turbines on radar systems are still being studied, but here's the crux of the matter: They can cause what it sometimes described as a "cone of silence" that make it difficulty for 2-D radar systems to detect planes. That means certain locations have been off limits for wind technology development, especially land near airports. And that means certain wind farms have been nixed because of their potential to cause safety issues.

A number of technology companies are working on potential solutions to the problem, and now one of those companies, the United Kingdom's Cambridge Consultants, has been selected for a project at the Glasgow Prestwick Airport in Scotland.

The company's turbine radar mitigation system is based on the company's Holographic Radar technology, which is a 3-D radar technology that has the ability to distinguish between the movement of the turbine and aircraft above it. The technology was tested by the U.K. Ministry of Defense during 2009, and it has been embraced as a solution by the UK government's Aviation Management Board.

Anne Mackenzie, group manager of Infratil Airports Europe, which owns the Glasgow Prestwick Airport, said:

"We are supporting holographic radar as it is a no-degradation solution that can operate at low level without loss of cover. Not only is it spectrum-friendly, but its 3-D plots can make seamless integration into existing radar displays easier. As a modular system, it should make the rollout of mitigation solutions for various wind farms more straightforward. The result of this work will be an essential building block for a robust mitigation strategy for [the airport], in an environment where safety is paramount."

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