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One of the most significant objects to wind farms could potentially have been bypassed through a new technology developed in a collaboration between QinetiQ and Vestas Wind Systems.
The so-called ‘Stealth Turbine’ radar mitigation technology has been successfully trialed at full scale for the first time at a wind farm in Norfolk, UK, as part of a programme part-funded by the UK Government Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS).
The Stealth Turbine solution uses a portfolio of radar absorbing materials (RAM) that are integrated into the current manufacturing processes for turbine components – blades, nacelle and tower – and which can be designed to operate at aviation and maritime frequencies. These include modified composites for nacelle and blades, and sprayable RAM coatings that can be applied directly onto the tower and other static surfaces.
The 44m prototype composite turbine blade was manufactured by Vestas.
The five year project has developed ‘Stealth Turbine’ technology, which it is hoped will significantly reduce the size of the radar signature made by individual turbines to the point where they can be effectively ‘factored out’ of air traffic control and air defence systems.
With 9GW of potential sites currently blocked by objections from radar operators, this technology could have a revolutionary impact on wind farm planning in both the UK and the rest of the world.
The recent trial in Norfolk involved the fitting of the prototype stealth blade onto a Vestas V90 turbine. Radar cross section (RCS) measurements were taken using the QinetiQ multiband pulsed radar (MPR) system, with results showing significant RCS reductions in line with expectations based on analysis and blade material measurements.
“We believe that Stealth Turbine technology could be a genuine game-changer for the renewable energy industry by removing a major barrier to its development,” said Mark Roberts, Strategic Business Director for Energy and Environment at QinetiQ. “This is another great example of QinetiQ applying its expertise in defence technologies to a different sector. Our long-standing involvement in the development of stealth techniques for ships and aircraft has enabled us to quickly, seamlessly and cost-effectively transfer this expertise to the renewable energy market. We believe that the ability to leverage our scientific and technical heritage across industries will enable us to continue to develop innovative solutions for the energy sector.”
A prototype of QinetiQ’s “stealth” blade is fitted onto a Vestas V90 turbine at Swaffham Wind Park in Norfolk. By addressing the effects of radar interference in the design of the blade, this new stealth technology could have a revolutionary impact on wind farm planning in the UK
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