6.3 Wind turbines and aviation
The UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) has voiced concern about the interference with military radar that could be caused by wind turbines. In addition, it is concerned that wind turbines (particularly those with large diameters and tall towers), when located in certain areas, will penetrate the lower portion of the low flying zones used by military aircraft. MOD intervention has impeded the development of several wind farms in the UK.
Renewable UK maintains a website (Renewable UK, 2011a) giving information about wind turbines and aviation, including a series of maps from NATS (National Air Traffic Services), MOD and RESTATS (RESTATS, 2011) showing the consultation zone areas in the UK for which NATS requires notification of wind turbine planning applications.
One potential solution involves adapting the design of wind turbine blades to include RAMs (radar absorbing materials). In a joint project between QinetiQ and Vestas (Appleton, 2010) a ‘stealth’ turbine equipped with a set of RAM blades has demonstrated a substantially reduced impact on radar.
Another approach is the development of systems that can filter out interference to radar from wind turbines, such as BAE’s ADT (Advanced Digital Tracking) system (Butler, 2007).
Can turbines have an impact on birds and wildlife? You’ll cover that next.