Air traffic services company reaches accord with two major wind energy developers

NATS' deal with SSE and Vattenfall could unlock up to 2.2GW of potential new wind energy across the UK.

The accord breaks new ground, observers say. Previously, some wind farm applications have been turned down on the grounds that they might interfere with radar signals used by air traffic controllers. However, a technical modification can be made to eliminate this problem. Under the new deal, this technology will be deployed at two radar stations (Lowther Hill in the Southern Uplands of Scotland and Great Dun Fell in the North Pennines in Cumbria) so that some wind farms can be built in certain areas which are monitored by radar.

The modification could be used at other radar stations, which could eventually unlock up to 2.2 gigawatts of potential new wind energy in the years ahead -- enough to generate clean electricity for more than 1,250,000 British homes. The advancement is the result of a research and development programme called Project RM, which prevents wind turbines from appearing as clutter on radar screens and being mistaken for aircraft.

Renewable UK, the trade association representing the wind industry, applauced the announcement. “This is another significant step forward for the UK’s wind energy industry, as it creates fresh opportunities to install new capacity in areas of the country which enjoy excellent wind resources," said RenewableUK’s chief executive Maria McCaffery. "It also marks what we hope is the start of a wider process to introduce modifications at other radar stations throughout the UK to unlock even greater capacity." 

Stephanie Clark, policy manager for Scottish Renewables, also welcomed the news. She said the solution could help projects successfully make their way through the planning system, where they would once have been rejected because of aviation concerns. But that's not the only benefit. "Through innovative projects like these, the sector can continue to deliver onshore wind projects that provide Scotland with renewable electricity, jobs, investment and help us reducing our carbon emissions," Clark added.


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Energy efficiency  •  Energy infrastructure  •  Policy, investment and markets  •  Wind power