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Wednesday, October 04, 2006

DOD: Wind Power Has No "Unacceptable Impact" on Radar

The Department of Defense (DOD) has found that none of the 730 wind turbine proposals reviewed so far have presented an "unacceptable imapact" to radar operation, according to Greenwire (sorry, membership required for online article). This conclusion comes despite a recent report which concluded that wind turbines can potentially interfere with military radar.

The news will hopefully mean that the up to 15 wind power projects in the Midwest that have been stalled by the FAA over concerns about effects on local radar installations since this summer (see previous post will now move forward. The stalled projects represent nearly 2,000 megawatts of capacity.

According to Greenwire, the DOD and the Department of Homeland Security have been reviewing projects for potential interference with military and homeland security radars, which has led to the delay of some projects in recent months. And a DOD report released last week described potential effects of turbines on radar performance.

The report recommended that projects be reviewed on a case-by-base basis.

To date, the DOD/DHS Long Range Radar Joint Program Office has reviewed a total of 730 turbine proposals, Greenwire reports, and the office has concluded 540 were not within radar "line of sight," according to spokeswoman Eileen M. Lainez.

Of the remaining 190, "it was determined that while those turbines may be in radar line of sight, construction would not create an unacceptable impact on the ability of our long range air defense and homeland security radars to perform their mission," Lainez said in an e-mail to Greenwire. She also said a number are still under review.

The Greenwire article continues:

Laurie Jodziewicz, a siting specialist with the American Wind Energy Association, said the roughly 10 projects in the Midwest slated to begin construction this year are moving forward after the reviews had created uncertainty about their status.

"The experience on the ground has shown us that wind and radar can coexist, so even in this time of pretty intense scrutiny those projects were allowed to move forward after this intense review," Jodziewicz said.

Jodziewicz said projects that had been delayed but have been able to proceed include PPM Energy's MinnDakota Wind Power Project, a 150 turbine project in the two states that will provide electricity to Xcel Energy customers. PPM announced Sept. 21 that it had broken ground on the project.

Good news for the American wind industry. From what I've heard, the DOD report wasn't all the great - it completely ignored the potential for mitigation technologies that could further reduce the impact of wind on long-range radar, for example, despite the fact that several technologies are being tested for that purpose - so it's good to see that the DOD/Homeland Security has independently reviewed the turbine proposals and found that they pose little or no impact on radar operations.

This whole radar hold-up seems to have been a pretty unnecessary hiccup caused largely by political maneuverings targetting the Cape Wind Project, not the Midwestern wind farms that actually ended up getting hurt by radar-related concerns (see previous post).


Tom Gray said...

Thanks, Jesse. As Laurie's comments indicate, we pretty much agree with your assessment of the report. It's our belief that at most sites where there is an issue, it can be resolved either by moving turbine locations or software or hardware changes to the radar or some combination.

Thomas O. Gray
American Wind Energy Association

Jesse Jenkins said...

Thanks for the comment Tom (it's nice to have your regular contribution on wind-related matters). Didn't you guys publish a response to the DOD radar report recently? A quick search didn't turn it up as I was writing this post, but if you've got a link, it would be great if you posted it here.