Researching offshore windfarms interference with military comms

Researching offshore windfarms interference with military comms

Seven projects, from six companies, have been awarded selected and the initiative will be funded through the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy’s Net Zero Innovation Portfolio. And it will be delivered by the Ministry of Defence’s Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) with the support of the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl).

The government writes:

“Radar returns from within-radar line of sight wind turbines comprise reflections from both the static and moving elements; providing different challenges for the radar operator. While reflections from the stationary elements of wind turbines can be removed by utilising stationary clutter filters, the rotating turbine blades impart a Doppler shift on the reflection that cannot be easily removed.”

“A number of recent trials have demonstrated the adverse impact that this has on the UK’s air defence capability. The Doppler shift on ground radar returns mimics the signals of fast moving aircraft, curtailing the RAF’s ability to detect incoming, low flying, aircraft threats.”

The companies involved are: Advanced Material Development Ltd (£392,605, using advanced nano-scale Radar Absorbing Material ensuring RF absorption), Saab Technologies UK Ltd (£599,692, incorporating AI and ML techniques into air defence radar), Trelleborg Applied Technologies (£600,000, to mitigate wind turbine radar interference, Thales UK Ltd (£481,019 and £599,970, to design multistatic, staring radar systems and to synchronise two remote Holographic radars to demonstrate synchronised multi-static staring radar (MSAR)), LiveLink Aerospace (£505,938, for passive sensors on the nacelles of wind turbines) and TWI Limited (£600,000, for a novel metasurface manufacturing method).

Net Zero

The context for the government intervention is the role offshore wind power will play in delivering the net zero targets to be achieved by 2050, given a government commitment to scale it up to 40GW by the end of the decade. To achieve net zero targets, the UK will need additional offshore windfarms around the UK, it says.

“Offshore wind will play a major role in achieving our Net Zero Targets,” said Wing Commander Kevin Walton, Co-Chair of the Ministry of Defence/Offshore Wind Industry Council Air Defence Mitigation Task Force. “The technology being developed in this competition will help the UK achieve its renewable energy targets without compromising the surveillance of UK airspace.”

“In addition, the technology being developed will help boost UK prosperity, entrepreneurs and innovators by investing in innovative technologies. Phase 2 of this competition develops on the Phase 1 activities and moves further to identify operational systems that will help enable the coexistence of offshore windfarms and the UK’s Air Defence and ATC surveillance systems.”

Windfarms Phase 1

In Phase 1, contracts were awarded to Thales, QinetiQ, Saab, TWI and Plextek DTS to fast-track their ideas for technologies to lessen the impact of windfarms on air defence radar systems.

The MOD’s DASA originally launched the competition in March 2020.

Technologies that were submitted during the competition included: technologies to reduce radar clutter caused by offshore windfarms; improvements to the probability of intruder detection; the capability to fill or remove gaps in radar coverage and alterations to the initial radar signal or radar station.

Image: Ministry of Defence

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