A deal has been signed by the Ministry of Defence that could allow the UK to tap into much more of its wind power potential.
In a statement made earlier this month, the MoD confirmed that an air defence radar manufactured by US defence firm Lockheed Martin had been put through trials on the east coast of England. As a result of its performance, the MoD has lifted the objections previously expressed in respect of five planned offshore wind farms in the area.
There are conditions attached to this move but, even so, the UK could soon get an additional 3.3 gigawatts of installed capacity.
Wind Turbine Radar Interference
Lockheed Martin’s air defence radar, the TPS-77 model, is described by the MoD as ‘wind-farm friendly’, in the sense its electronic components are advanced enough to reduce wind turbine radar interference caused by blade rotation down to an extremely low and manageable level.
As per the UK Government’s Renewables Roadmap document, which aims to speed up the deployment of renewable energy technologies across the British Isles, radar signal disruption concerns tops the list of objections most often raised over planned onshore wind farms. Even small-scale turbines, with a 50 Kilowatt output, can generate distorted on-screen images once their blades start interrupting the radar flow.
UK Wind Power Capacity
Two more TPS-77 radars are following the initial example into service and, once these arrive, the potential’s there for an extra 750 MW of UK wind power capacity to open up.
The announcement of the Lockheed Martin radar’s trial success represents, to RenewableUK’s policy director, Doctor Gordon Edge: “The end of what has been a long-term obstacle for the expansion of wind energy.”
He added, in comments published by The Guardian: “Through close co-operation with the Ministry of Defence, the industry is identifying its impact on our defence infrastructure and bearing its share of the costs of mitigating that impact. By doing so, we expand our ability to tap into Britain’s world-beating renewable energy resources.”