Denmark's Vestas Wind Systems and international defence technology company Qinetic have developed a wind turbine with "stealth" characteristics that makes it largely invisible to radar systems, reports professional journal Ingeniøren (The Engineer).
The Stealth Turbine project has been undertaken because authorities in several countries have blocked the development of potential wind farm sites due to concerns that the wind turbines can cause problems with air traffic control and defence radar systems.
In the UK, the above concerns have put a massive 9 GW of potential wind farm capacity on hold, while in Germany a EUR 1.5bn offshore wind farm has been blocked due to fears that it would interfere with radar monitoring of the coastline and might threaten national security.
The Qinetic-Vestas breakthrough could have a major effect on wind farm planning throughout the world, as well as freeing up development capital through restarting wind farm developments like the abovementioned projects in UK and Germany that have stalled on radar interference grounds.
The test was conducted using a 44 metre prototype stealth blade manufactured by Vestas, installed on a Vestas V90 turbine at Swaffham Wind Park in Norfolk, UK, and showed that the turbine's radar signature could be effectively 'factored out' of air traffic control and defence radar systems. The project was part-funded by the UK Government Department for Business Innovation and Skills.
The stealth turbine uses a range of radar absorbing materials (RAM) integrated into the blades and nacelle, and sprayable RAM coatings applied to the tower and other static surfaces.
In a press release from Qinetic, a company formed from the 2001split-up of UK's Defence Evaluation and Research Agency, its energy and environment business director Mark Roberts writes: “We believe that Stealth Turbine technology could be a genuine game-changer for the renewable energy industry by removing a major barrier to its development.”