Research to make sure that future offshore wind farms do not interfere with crucial military communications is underway following a £2 million grant from the UK Government.
Contracts have been awarded to Thales, QinetiQ, Saab, TWI and Plextek DTS to fast-track their ideas for technologies that could mitigate the impact of wind farms on the UK’s air defense radar system.
According to the Ministry of Defence:
“By guaranteeing essential defense communications are not affected, more wind farms can be built, creating a greener and more technologically sustainable Britain.”
The MoD’s Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) is spearheading the innovation competition on behalf of the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the Royal Air Force, and the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl).
Defence Minister Jeremy Quin, said:
“We want more offshore wind farms to help deliver our ambitious environmental agenda while retaining the protection that radar provides. This is a great step forward in achieving this goal and shows Defence’s determination to support sustainability and deliver our green goals for Britain.”
Minister for Energy and Clean Growth, Kwasi Kwarteng, said:
“The continued growth of offshore wind is a national success story and this funding will ensure we continue to build bigger and more advanced projects vital to tackling climate change. The UK’s innovative spirit is second to none, which is why we are drawing from all areas of the country’s expertise to drive forward our incredible renewable energy fleet.”
DASA say they launched the Windfarm Mitigation for UK Air Defence competition in March, to find innovative solutions that lessen the impact off-shore wind turbines could have on military and civilian radar systems.
Wing Commander Helena Ramsden, Air Capability Strategy, Air Command, said:
“This is a positive first step in getting cutting-edge innovation off the ground to harness the best technology from the brightest minds in the country. We are committed to keeping the skies above the UK safe from aerial threats whilst accelerating crucial work to allow the nation to do more to combat climate change.”
The following proposals have also been mentioned:
- Thales, in collaboration with the University of Birmingham and SMEs, will develop surveillance to mitigate wind farm ‘clutter’, whereas Saab is developing a radar mitigation system using Artificial Intelligence and Doppler filtering.
- QinetiQ is developing two proposals — the first approach uses new materials to stop the radar from being distorted. Their second proposal will develop radar-absorbing materials that can be put on off-shore wind turbines to limit interference.
- TWI will develop novel methods for creating conductive coating for turbine blades that adsorb radar in partnership with the University of Exeter’s Centre for Metamaterial Research and Innovation. Finally, Plextek DTS is developing techniques to remove the effects wind farms have on radar data.
Robert Hammond-Smith, DASA delivery manager, said:
“This competition will not only help us meet our green energy needs but it will also help boost UK prosperity, entrepreneurs and innovators by investing in their potentially game-changing technology. DASA is proud to be working closely with BEIS, the RAF and Dstl to lead this important work which could transform the UK’s approach to offshore wind power generation.”