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Offshore wind industry investigates air defence radar issues

4C Offshore | Tom Russell
By: Tom Russell 26/11/2020 Offshore Wind Industry Council
The offshore wind industry is providing millions of pounds in new funding for the Ministry of Defence (MOD) to test new technology. The aim is to identify solutions which will allow more offshore projects to be built in areas where deployment has previously been blocked due to impacts on MOD air defence radar.
As part of the Offshore Wind Sector Deal, the Offshore Wind Industry Council (OWIC) and the Government are working together to overcome technical challenges faced by offshore wind deployment in the UK. One of the workstreams is focussing on mitigating the impact of wind farms on air defence radar systems.
The new agreement secures wind industry funding for the MOD to test a series of mitigation concepts and technologies, including various types of new radars which show potential to distinguish between wind turbines and aircraft in a far more sophisticated way than before.
The first demonstrations of the new concepts will take place this year, with preliminary results expected to be published in the first half of 2021. 
The funding will also be used to appoint a senior Royal Air Force officer to take up a new key role liaising with industry and Government on solutions to aviation issues for the next three years. A Wing Commander Senior Programme Manager will act as Co-Chair of the Joint MOD-OWIC Air Defence Mitigation Task Force and lead this work for the MOD.
The funds have been provided by OWIC members The Crown Estate, Equinor, Ørsted, RWE Renewables, ScottishPower Renewables, SSE Renewables and Vattenfall Wind Power, with the wind industry funding body, the Aviation Investment Fund Company, also contributing and signing the contract on behalf of the funders with MOD.
The work builds on previous MOD feasibility studies and is part of a wider work package which aims to deliver an initial Air Defence Mitigation Strategy & Implementation Plan next year to enable the deployment of new offshore wind projects. Follow-on studies are planned for 2021-22 to update the plan. OWIC and the Government are working together to ensure the safety and security needs of civil and defence aviation can be met while maximising the deployment of wind energy.

Paul Cooley, Director of Capital Projects, SSE Renewables, Co-chair of the OWIC/MOD Aviation Programme Board and OWIC Aviation sponsor said: “Achieving this key milestone reflects the positive engagement achieved via the joint programme board, with the offshore wind industry, MOD and Government working collaboratively to explore new technical solutions to industry-wide challenges. It’s a great example of how the sector and key stakeholders can work together on the shared objective of delivering the UK’s decarbonisation ambitions”.

Will Apps, Head of Energy Development at The Crown Estate, commented: "This innovative demonstration project is a superb example of how Government, the sector and key stakeholders can come together to address shared challenges. We are pleased to be able to support this project as an early action of our Offshore Wind Evidence and Change Programme, a new five-year programme seeking to support the sustainable and coordinated expansion of offshore wind in the UK, to be launched formally later in the year”.
The Co-chair of the Joint MOD/OWIC Task Force, Wing Commander Helena Ramsden, Air Capability Senior Programme Manager at Headquarters Air Command, Royal Air Force stated: “We are committed to keeping the skies above the UK safe from aerial threats whilst supporting achievement of the Government’s green energy ambitions.  Working across government and with the wind industry, this unique collaboration marks a major and important step on the journey to overcome the challenges that Air Defence and Offshore Wind pose to one another”.   
Dujon Goncalves-Collins, of Vattenfall Wind Power, OWIC’s Aviation Workstream Lead and Co-chair of Joint MOD-OWIC Task Force said: “The goal of this work is to unlock new sites for much-needed renewable energy projects by resolving radar issues comprehensively and as swiftly as possible. To achieve this, I’m looking forward to working closely with the new RAF Co-chair of joint task force and the teams from the Ministry of Defence, the Ministry of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and The Crown Estate, along with my colleagues from the Offshore Wind Industry Council”. 
“To meet the Prime Minister’s offshore wind deployment ambitions for 2030 as a key milestone towards the 2050 net zero target, we’ve pulled together an innovative, ambitious and exciting programme of studies and work, much of it already underway and even more being planned, so I’m looking forward to sharing the first fruits of our endeavours next year”.

Anne Mackenzie, Senior Aviation Manager at ScottishPower Renewables and Chair the Aviation Investment Fund Company Limited (AIFCL), commented: “Providing funding and contracting support for wind industry participation in the Air Defence Concept Demonstration continues AIFCL’s tradition of supporting research and development activities to identify solutions to remove aviation radar as a barrier to deployment of onshore and offshore wind. The mutual benefits to onshore air defence and air traffic control from this offshore programme will play an important role in ensuring that the UK can achieve its net zero ambitions”.


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