Wind power developers Vattenfall and SSE have signed a “pioneering” radar deal with air traffic control company NATS which they claim “could unlock up to 2.2 GW of potential new wind energy across the UK”.
NATS must be consulted on all wind turbine applications in the UK and it is forced to object to around two per cent of cases because the proposed turbines would interfere with radar signals – turbine blades can appear as ‘clutter’ on radar screens and be mistaken for aircraft by air traffic controllers.
The deal between NATS and SSE and Vattenfall will result in a technical modification being made to two radar sites to rectify this problem, a move all three parties believe will result in more wind farm applications being granted planning consent.
NATS chief executive Richard Deakin said: “This is a landmark agreement that heralds a significant technical advance in mitigating the radar interference from wind turbines. It unlocks significant potential for wind-based power generation and for the UK in meeting its carbon reduction targets.”
He said NATS had been “committed to working across the industry to find a way of unlocking this new power while ensuring aviation safety” and hailed the deal as “a fantastic result”.
Colin Nicol, director of onshore renewables at SSE said the agreement was “a positive collaboration between two sectors working together in partnership through innovation” while Piers Guy, head of development for Vattenfall UK, said it would “benefit the whole industry by unlocking the potential of gigawatts of otherwise stalled wind power capacity”.
He added: “This new capacity would generate well over a billion pounds of new investment, creating hundreds of jobs and significantly boosting UK renewable energy production. We are very pleased to be part of such an exciting initiative which has brought the aviation and energy industry together to successfully tackle a UK wide problem and I would like to thank everyone for their commitment to delivering this safe and cost effective solution.”
Maria McCaffery, chief executive of trade group RenewableUK, said: “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.
“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.”