Whitelee windfarm

Radar agreements assist windfarm developers in Scotland

Data from a radar station owned by ScottishPower Renewables (SPR) may be the key to unblocking up to 110MW of wind energy developments in central Scotland.

ScottishPower Renewables has reached breakthrough agreements with four windfarm developers to provide access to data from its custom-built radar station in Kincardine. The move could overcome concerns about the movement of turbine blades interfering with air traffic management radars.

SPR has been talking to windfarm developers for several years to help find solutions to potential radar issues, and hopes to reach further agreements in the near future.

The company built the supplementary primary radar station in 2006 on the site of a disused power station in order to overcome the concerns of Glasgow Airport and National Air Traffic Services (NATS) when it was seeking planning permission to build Whitelee windfarm. Whitelee fully opened in 2009 and is now the largest onshore windfarm in Europe.

Data from the Kincardine radar station is used to supplement radar coverage at Glasgow and Edinburgh airports and NATS En Route. When all the radar data is ‘fused’ over the relevant windfarm, it gives air traffic controllers a picture of that airspace free from any turbine interference.

Simon Christian, UK managing director of ScottishPower Renewables, said: “Radar issues have long been a major stumbling block for windfarm developers. During the planning process for Whitelee, the project was held up for a number of years until the radar solution was found.

“By offering radar solutions to other developers we will help to unblock a significant amount of renewable energy, benefiting the wider industry and helping further towards achieving carbon reduction targets.

“These agreements are a first for the industry in Scotland and we hope that many more will follow. It shows that developers can work well together in order to find solutions to common problems.”

The initial agreements are with Gamesa, Muirhall Energy, West Coast Energy (two developments) and RWE npower renewables (for the Middleton project, which has since been purchased by SPR).

ScottishPower Renewables is also part of a cross-industry aviation group looking at potential solutions to radar issues in Scotland. The Scottish Government launched the steering group in 2009, and it consists of windfarm developers, the operators of Glasgow, Edinburgh and Prestwick airports and National Air Traffic Services.

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