Military called to installations talks

FINLAND: The Finnish Energy Industries Association (FEIA) has requested urgent discussions with the country's military to discuss the armed forces' opposition to turbines located in the vicinity of radar installations.

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The call for talks comes following moves by the Finnish Armed Forces (FAF) either to block or oppose wind farm applications in eastern, central and western Finland.

The FAF's opposition is damaging the planning and development of new wind farms, the FEIA claims. In December, the power company Kotkan Voima suspended plans to construct a 10MW wind farm after the FAF lodged an objection at the planning stage of the project.

The FAF says more studies need to be done to establish wind turbines' effects on military radar. However, the FAF is unlikely to co-finance research with the FEIA unless government funding for such a project is available.

The government is hoping that the FEIA can reach agreement with the FAF to jointly fund a research project to ascertain what negative impact, if any, working turbines have on the operational integrity of military radar.

"We have access to research conducted in mainland European countries, as well as the United States, that indicates wind turbines can interfere with the reliability of radar. This view is shared by the VTT," says the FAF's Lieutenant-Colonel Arto Ikonen.

The state-funded VTT is Finland's main technical research organisation. "We are now seeing a significant change in the design and operation of wind turbines.

They are taller, produce more energy and are part of larger wind farms. We want reliable and competent research done across Finland on the effects of wind turbines on radar.

The military is not opposed to wind power, but the effects have to be studied carefully and quickly," Ikonen adds. The FEIA has offered to pay 50% of the cost of a technical study, says Jukka Leskela, the FEIA's director of power generation activities.

"We have approached the military, the defence ministry and relevant government ministries, and all have refused to cooperate or contribute financially," says Leskela. "On the one hand, the government supports building wind power, but then a government agency, the defence forces, blocks construction."

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