wind farm

Air defence radar orders clear the way for wind development

Serco have been awarded a Ministry of Defence contract to deploy radar technology to prevent wind farms interfering with the UK’s air defences.

New air defence radars will be provided at Remote Radar Head Brizlee Wood, Northumberland and RRH Staxton Wold, North Yorkshire. Serco has previously been awarded a contract to support the introduction of similar radar technology at RRH Trimingham, Norfolk, which has now been installed. The latest award is worth £27m and the total contract value to Serco is around £45m over three years.

As prime contractor, Serco is working with Lockheed Martin in the US to develop and provide radar technology that resists interference created by wind farm turbine blades; the lack of such technology had previously impeded the roll out of wind farms in line of sight of air defence radar stations.

Serco is also responsible for the overall system performance, undertaking the safety case analysis, introducing new ground to air communications and providing ongoing consultancy to the energy companies in relation to their plans for future wind farm developments until 2018.

Simon Bailey, director of project solutions at Serco Energy, told E&T that each radar will provide an area solution, funded by the offshore and onshore developers whose projects could not otherwise go ahead. The alternative of providing separate mitigation measures for each wind farm would not only be prohibitively expensive but would also pose major integration problems.

Wind turbines present a considerable challenge to radars, which Bailey likens to a watching bicycle wheel spinning. Multiple reflections change in intensity and polarity “and move all over the place with the wind direction”, he said.

“We knew that there was a different radar type that was resilient to the extremely complex returns you get from wind turbines,” he explained, “so we approached the energy companies and the MOD and suggested this would be a solution.”

The chosen L band radar system uses high-integrity pulsed Doppler processing. “That’s combined with some very clever technology to ‘encircle’ the turbines, so the pulsed Doppler processing is limited just to the areas where the turbines are, meaning the processor is not overloaded,” Bailey continued.

Installation of the three new radar systems covering the East Coast and extending to the horizon allows the development of up to 4GW of renewable energy and clears a path for the MOD and the Department of Energy and Climate Change to enable the further development of wind farms and so help the government realise its target of reducing carbon emissions.

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