United Kingdom

United Kingdom

New player tackles radar problem

UNITED KINGDOM: New firm Aveillant is launching technology it claims will remove concerns about aviation safety and air defence. Parent company Cambridge Consultants set up the spin-off venture to address concerns about wind-turbine blades interfering with civil and military radar systems, which in the UK alone has held up projects totalling as much as 5GW.

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Aveillant will provide airfields with accurate radar data needed to eliminate potential confusion, without any resulting loss in performance. The approach has been developed in consultation with the key stakeholders, including wind-farm developers, airport operators, the Department for Energy and Climate Change (Decc) and the Ministry of Defence (MoD). The result is a single mitigation technology that promises to meet both civil and MoD requirements.

The radar issue was first recognised around 30 years ago, and discussions between the wind industry, government and the defence authorities have been going on ever since. As aircraft fly above wind farms, current radar systems have struggled to distinguish between the aircraft and the rotating turbine blades.

There are two approaches to the problem. The first involves treating the turbine blades to make them invisible to radar in much the same way "stealth" fighter planes are invisible. The second examines whether suitable software can be developed to filter undesirable signals from wind turbines.

Following the latter approach, Aveillant will exploit a new development of radar technology in the form of its proprietary 3D holographic radar. This is designed to recognise the presence and position of even small aircraft in the vicinity of the largest wind turbines, providing a level of accuracy that will assure safe separation of aircraft and turbine in the most demanding airspace. Successful trials of a small-scale system for the MoD in 2009 led to sponsorship for a proposal to the Decc's aviation advisory panel.

This first part of a multi-million pound investment is being funded though a consortium of Cambridge Consultants, venture capitalist DFJ Esprit, and the Aviation Investment Fund Company set up by the UK wind industry.

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