The UK seeks to reduce the impact of wind farms on air defense radar systems

Expected expansion of offshore wind over the next decade in order to achieve decarbonisation goals worries Her Majesty’s government as it would hamper the country’s air defense surveillance systems. London thus launched the “Wind Farm Mitigation For UK Air Defense Competition” to find alternative technologies that reduce radar disturbance and ensure the detection of intruders.
(Fonte: Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy)

While the growing use of offshore wind farms is helping countries to pursue decarbonisation goals, the UK government is concerned that these clean energy generators could hinder national borders.

In fact, very high turbines can interfere with air surveillance radars since the rotational movement of their blades produces reflections that alter or disturb the traces recorded by the radar and add a Doppler effect.

which is not easily recognizable by the systems currently in use.

The current methodologies for mitigating the problem, in fact, do not meet the operational requirements, and the solutions used on civil radar systems cannot be applied to military radars, especially since Air Defense, having to discover and track potentially hostile aircraft, cannot do reliance on transponder data or standard flight paths to properly discriminate radar tracks.

Specifically when considering an object in low altitude flight near a wind farm, the ability to detect and track the object can be disrupted due to excessive radar disturbance.  Or if you consider a jet that flies fast and makes a sharp turn on a wind farm, the entry trajectory detected by the radar may not match the exit trajectory, making it difficult to intercept.
(Fonte: Surf Air Mobility)
(Fonte: Surf Air Mobility)

The British government asks for help from the industry

Future wind farms will increase in size and number, with turbine blades reaching more than 130 meters in length and moving at greater speed, significantly aggravating the phenomenon.

As a result, the UK government has held a competition for companies to propose ways to solve the problem and plans to award five or six contracts as early as next June. The “Wind Farm Mitigation For UK Air Defense” competition is funded with a £ 3.6 million (approximately € 4.1 million) fund from the Net Zero Innovation Portfolio of the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) , in partnership with the Royal Air Force (RAF), the Defense Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) and the Defense and Security Accelerator (DASA). The competition has recently entered its second phase, with the possibility of submitting proposals by June 15th, and the selection scheduled for June 21st.UK Defense Minister Jeremy Quin said at the launch of Phase 1 of the competition last year: “We want more offshore wind farms to help deliver on our ambitious environmental agenda, while maintaining the protection provided by radar. This is a big step towards achieving this goal and shows Defense’s determination to support sustainability and achieve our ‘green’ goals for Great Britain.

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”.The potential degradation of aerial surveillance capacity due to wind farms is not an entirely new concern: in fact, a 2008 study by the US Department for Homeland Security had already warned that “wind farms interfere with aircraft radar tracking


However, to achieve the Net Zero goals outlined by Her Majesty’s government, the UK will need additional offshore wind farms, both based on fixed-bottom and floating structures.

The key challenge for Her Majesty's government is to maintain effective airspace surveillance despite the presence of larger wind farms.  The required requirement is that of effective monitoring of the airspace, to be achieved without compromising the performance of offshore wind turbines in terms of energy production or reliability.
General Electric’s Haliade-X turbine. (Source: General Electric)
General Electric’s Haliade-X turbine. (Source: General Electric)

Offshore wind is a UK success story

With the Offshore Wind Sector Deal – or the sectoral agreement, based on the UK’s global leadership position in offshore wind, as part of which it seeks to maximize the benefits for the British industry from the global shift to clean growth , in line with the Clean Growth Grand Challenge – London is committed to the installation, by 2030, of offshore wind farms that will be able to generate a total of 40 gigawatts of wind electricity, enough to meet 40% of energy needs electricity supply in the United Kingdom, guaranteeing 60,000 jobs and $ 3.3 billion a year in exports.

Among the projects promoting the UK wind sector is the largest offshore wind farm in the world, currently under construction at Dogger Bank, a relatively shallow area of ​​the North Sea extending roughly from west to east. between Northern England and Denmark. The huge wind farm uses the most powerful turbines in the world, Haliade-X fromGeneral Electric

, each 260 meters high with a rotor diameter of 220 meters; one rotation of these huge blades could power a UK home for two days.

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The Doppler effect is a physical phenomenon that occurs with the propagation of waves when the source and / or the observer are moving in different directions. A concrete example is the audible decrease in pitch when the siren of a police car goes by.

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