London, UK Research organization, QinetiQ, has received funding from the DTI for a project to develop the World's first stealthy wind turbine blades.
Reflections from wind turbines can affect radar systems used for air traffic control, marine navigation, weather monitoring and by the Ministry of Defence. Modifying the composition of glass fibre reinforced polymer (GFRP) blades, which can be some 50m or more in length, can allow the blades to absorb radar signals without compromising their structural strength.
The technology can also reduce or remove spurious signals received by radars. The DTI funding is being matched by venture capital from QinetiQ and NOI Scotland, a manufacturer of wind turbine blades.
The project will develop absorbing blade materials to counter the range of frequencies over which various radar systems operate. It will also use computer modelling tools, developed in recent years by QinetiQ, to predict the impact of these new, stealthy wind turbines
The UK is only eighth in terms of accumulative installed wind turbine capacity in 2002, with 570MW on stream, in comparison with Germany (12,000), USA (4,700), Spain (5,000) and Denmark (2,900).
According to the British Wind Energy Association, which represents the interests of the wind energy industry in the UK, in 2002 more than 25% of all proposals for windfarm developments were the subject of objections from radar operators.
A DTI funded project has been completed in which radar scientists from QinetiQ predicted the levels and types of interactions between windfarms and radar systems. This study showed that radar effects could be mitigated through one or a combination of careful windfarm design, software fixes for the radar systems and the use of stealthy turbine blades.
The UK Government is currently driving toward a commitment of 10% of Britain's power generated by renewable sources by 2010, and with plans to double that figure by 2020.