The U.S. Dept. of Defense (DOD) last Wednesday issued its report on the effects of wind power systems on military radar. Concerns that wind energy systems might interfere with radar prompted the DOD, through the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), to put several wind energy system projects on hold until the study was completed.
The American Wind Energy Assn. (AWEA) on Thursday voiced its disappointment with the DOD study, claiming that it “only cursorily mentions existing and emerging ways to mitigate wind turbine radar interactions.”
In fact, the DOD devotes eight pages in the 62-page report to mitigation strategies, with the balance focused on wind energy systems and their effects on radar. AWEA acknowledges that some wind turbines can affect radar systems, but thousands of wind turbines generating electricity nationwide demonstrate that impacts can be, and have been, mitigated through measures such as relocating turbines or upgrading radar systems. AWEA also advocates exploring additional technical options that can either be used today or developed in the future to address this issue.”Decades of experience tell us that wind and radar can coexist,” says AWEA Executive Director Randall Swisher. “The American wind energy industry will continue to work collaboratively with government and others on efforts to constructively address challenges and refine solutions. We need to further develop clean, renewable energy sources like wind to reduce dependence on imports and increase our energy security.”In the meantime, some of the projects held up by radar concerns are moving ahead. The FAA approved 614 applications for individual wind turbines that total more than 1000 mW of new wind power (enough to power approximately 250,000 homes) worth $1.5 billion in economic development in Minnesota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and Illinois.The study was requested in the National Defense Authorization Act passed by Congress late last year. When directing DOD to conduct the study, Congress specifically requested that DOD include an examination of mitigation studies. 36 Members of the House of Representatives led by Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Ralph Hall (R-TX) echoed these instructions in a recent letter to President Bush and White House Council on Environmental Quality Director James Connaughton.
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