Plans for what will be one of the largest windfarm developments in Scotland have been given the go ahead after Glasgow Airport confirmed it has successfully trialled a new radar system to detect turbines at the site.
The new Scanter 4002 radar system will be operational by 2018, paving the way for the Kype Muir windfarm near Strathaven in South Lanarkshire. The site will initially consist of 26 turbines but is likely to be extended in future to include 41 turbines, generating enough electricity for up to 90,000 homes.
The airport has spent three years developing the new technology in conjunction with windfarm developer, Banks Renewables, and NATS. The height and movement of wind turbines means they can be mistaken for aircraft by air traffic computers, leading controllers to divert planes around them unnecessarily. They can also “mask” real aircraft, creating a potential hazard for planes travelling in the same airspace.
Glasgow Airport was one of the first in the world to deploy large-scale wind turbine mitigation technology in the form of infill radar and has gone on to develop single turbine “blanking” systems in response to the increasing number of windfarms.
However, the large-scale and location of the Kype Muir development, around 16 miles south-east of the airport, meant that existing detection technology would not be effective.
Ross Nimmo, head of planning and development at Glasgow Airport, said: “We are pleased to have reached such a significant milestone and look forward to continue working with NATS and Banks Renewables to deliver the mitigation. As well as resolving the issue with Kype Muir, the mitigation may also have the potential to resolve issues with other wind farm proposals.”
As a statutory consultee, Glasgow Airport is required to assess wind farm development proposals up to 50 kilometres away (31 miles) to ensure that any proposed development will not pose a safety risk to the 30 airlines who fly over nine million passengers to and from the airport every year.
The development of the Scanter 4002 radar system means the Kype Muir windfarm can proceed.
Since first deploying turbine detection systems, Glasgow Airport has been able to approve 90 per cent of the 495 wind turbine applications it received between October 2012 and August 2016. These projects, once built, have the potential to generate 704 megawatts of clean electricity, enough to power 350,000 homes.
Iain Harris, director of engineering services at NATS, said: “We’re delighted to be working with Banks Renewables and Glasgow Airport. By working together we’ve been able to agree a solution that provides both the safe and reliable radar service that the airport needs and allows the development to go ahead.”
The Scottish Government has set a target to generate the equivalent of 100 per cent of Scotland’s gross annual electricity consumption from renewables by 2020. In 2015, around 50 per cent of the electricity used in Scotland came from renewable sources.
Andy Liddell, technical director for Banks Renewables, added: “I am delighted that between us, we have been able to produce a radar solution that won’t just enable us to develop our wind farm at Kype Muir that will generate clean, green electricity, whilst ensuring aircraft and passenger safety.
“It may also enable a number of other renewable energy developers in the region to bring their projects to fruition.”