Aveillant co-founders Craig Webster (l) and Gordon Oswald (r)

Radar spin-out aims to get windfarms turning

Cambridge Consultants have announced the spin out of a high-tech radar company to remove a key barrier to wind energy expansion.

Wind turbines in motion can mimic aircraft on an air traffic controller’s radar screen. Aveillant will provide airfields with the accurate radar data needed to eliminate the potential confusion this could cause, without any resulting loss or compromise in performance.

Two Cambridge Consultants staff who have worked for many years on the proprietary radar technology, Craig Webster and Gordon Oswald, are moving to Aveillant as co-founders.

Oswald, the company’s chief scientific officer, explained to E&T that the solution works by siting a continuously-tracking 3D holographic radar within the windfarm. The information it supplies is combined with information from the primary radar at the airfield or monitoring site, “so we clean up their display,” he said.

“The system works by knowing more about the windfarm rather than trying to hide it,” Oswald explained. Its function is to return the system performance to where it was without compromise, he said. “It can tell an aircraft from a turbine and measure the position of that aircraft in 3D, so it feeds correct information to the primary radar.”

Even in situations where there is no interference, Oswald added, the infill radar has the benefit of being able to observe events inside the windfarm. “You could monitor helicopters or workboats in and around an offshore site, or intruders using the windfarm as camouflage,” he said.

Aveillant’s business will be to supply both equipment and services. It intends to outsource some component manufacture, but will itself carry out final assembly, test and installation.

On costs, Oswald said: “It has to be affordable for the great majority of windfarms. We will provide a service for a small increment to the running costs of a wind farm, and there will be a connection charge.”

A radar mitigation design for any given project would involve collaborating closely with the operators of the primary radar system and all other affected parties to create a formal definition of requirements.

Earlier this year Cambridge Consultants worked with Glasgow Prestwick Airport and potential wind developers in the surrounding area to carry out a feasibility study and Part 1 Safety Case, which has been accepted by the Civil Aviation Authority.

Aveillant is supported by a multi-million pound investment funded through a consortium of Cambridge Consultants, venture capitalist DFJ Esprit, and the Wind Industry’s funding body, the Aviation Investment Fund Company Ltd (AIFCL).

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