Radar results mollify military

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Aircraft flight trials in Sweden have failed to show that wind turbines have any significant influence on air defence radar. The finding is good news for wind energy developers in areas of Europe, particularly in Britain, where projects are being blocked because of air force concern about the effect of whirling wind turbine rotors on ground based radar. Sweden's government and the military establishment took the decision to run the trials against the background of an increasing rate of objections by the air force to proposed wind farms -- particularly in the southern part of Sweden. The refusals were based on a theoretical model that showed a risk that target detection might be prevented by interference from wind turbines. The model calculated the minimum allowable distances between proposed wind turbine sites and the air force's ground based radar. Yet the rate of refusals led the wind industry to cast doubt on the basis for rejecting some of their wind projects. The trials were conducted in February and March 1996 on the Baltic island of Gotland, home to many wind turbines, both stand alone and in clusters. Measurements were taken with both rotating and non-rotating turbines. Despite the presence of the wind turbines in the flight paths, the data collected showed no significant decrease in detection probability or accuracy. The measurements in the cluster area showed that targets were even detected and followed when flying within the cluster of turbines. The new findings will strengthen the case of UK wind energy developers whose projects in some areas are being opposed by the country's Ministry of Defence.x

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