Offshore Windfarm development boosted by £2 million research

Thursday October 29th, 2020

In a move that could significantly boost the UK’s renewable energy growth, contracts have been awarded to Thales, QinetiQ, Saab, TWI and Plextek DTS to fast-track their ideas for technologies that could mitigate the impact of windfarms on the UK’s air defence radar system.

By guaranteeing essential defence communications are not affected, more wind farms can be built, creating a greener and more technologically sustainable Britain in record time.

The MOD’s Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) is spearheading the innovation competition on behalf of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the Royal Air Force (RAF), and the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl).

The innovation contracts are part of the MOD’s commitment to the Government’s 2019 Offshore Wind Sector Deal, which expects wind power to fuel 30 percent of the UK’s electricity need by 2030.

DASA launched the Windfarm Mitigation for UK Air Defence competition in March, to find innovative solutions that lessen the impact off-shore wind turbines could have on military and civilian radar systems.

The successful bidders in DASA’s competition offered wide-ranging and complex ideas to tackle radar interference.

Thales, in collaboration with the University of Birmingham and SMEs, will develop surveillance to mitigate windfarm ‘clutter’, whereas Saab is developing a radar mitigation system using Artificial Intelligence and Doppler filtering.

QinetiQ is developing two proposals – the first approach uses new materials to stop the radar from being distorted. Their second proposal will develop radar-absorbing materials that can be put on off-shore wind turbines to limit interference.

TWI will develop novel methods for creating conductive coating for turbine blades that adsorb radar in partnership with the University of Exeter’s Centre for Metamaterial Research and Innovation. Finally, Plextek DTS is developing techniques to remove the effects windfarms have on radar data.

The UK is investing more in offshore wind than any other country and is home to the world’s largest windfarms: Walney and Hornsea 1 in the North Sea.

Walney wind farm generates power for more than 600,000 homes across Cumbria, while the impressive Hornsea 1 supports power for over one million households across the UK.

Offshore wind will play a key role in delivering net-zero emissions by 2050, with a Government commitment to scale it up to 40GW by the end of the decade.

BEIS has already invested £1.3 million into the Offshore Wind Innovation Hub and the Knowledge Transfer Network to encourage industry to come up with ways to accelerate wind farm development.

This would mean a huge increase in the number of wind farms being built off the UK’s shores, needing effective connection to the grid.

Defence Minister Jeremy Quin said:

“We want more offshore wind farms to help deliver our ambitious environmental agenda while retaining the protection that radar provides.

This is a great step forward in achieving this goal and shows Defence’s determination to support sustainability and deliver our green goals for Britain.”

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