19 April 2010

Wind Power Complications with Radar

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The U.S. Air Force is threatening to halt construction of a 845-megawatt wind farm in eastern Oregon that would be the world’s largest wind project, citing concerns that the wind turbines would interfere with a nearby military radar station and its ability to detect radar images.

Rotating wind turbine blades could impart a Doppler shift to any radar energy reflecting off the blades and cause false images or interference. This has impact on the location of future wind farms but issues remain on how to resolve this problem.

A wind farm is a group of wind turbines in the same location used for production of electric power. Individual turbines are interconnected with a medium voltage power collection system and communications network. At a substation, this medium-voltage electrical current is increased in voltage with a transformer for connection to the high voltage transmission system.

Wind farm siting can be highly controversial, particularly when sites are picturesque or environmentally sensitive, such as having substantial bird life, or requiring roads to be built through pristine areas. These areas are generally non-residential due to the noise concerns and setback requirements. And now there are radar concerns.

Easy access to the power grid must be taken into mind. The further from the power grid, there will be need for more transmission lines to span from the farm directly to the power grid or transformers will have to be built on the premises depending upon the types of turbines being used.

As a general rule, wind generators are practical if the wind speed is 10 mph or greater. An ideal location would have a near constant flow of non-turbulent wind throughout the year with a minimum likelihood of sudden powerful bursts of wind.

(ENN Environmental News Network)

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