USA — Officials Work to Resolve Wind Energy, Radar Dilemma

WASHINGTON — Defense Depart­ment offi­cials are reach­ing out to acad­e­mia and the ener­gy indus­try to strike a bal­ance between its sup­port for alter­na­tive ener­gy sources and its need to pro­tect nation­al secu­ri­ty.

Dorothy Robyn, the department’s deputy under­sec­re­tary for instal­la­tions and envi­ron­ment, out­lined the dilem­ma at a hear­ing before the House Armed Ser­vices Committee’s readi­ness sub­com­mit­tee June 29.

The depart­ment strong­ly sup­ports the devel­op­ment of renew­able ener­gies – lead­ers have called America’s depen­dence on for­eign oil a nation­al secu­ri­ty issue — and it is a rec­og­nized leader in the use of solar, geot­her­mal and wind to pro­duce ener­gy, Robyn said. How­ev­er, she added, mil­i­tary lead­ers also have found that the increas­ing use of wind tur­bines is tak­ing a toll on the aging radar sys­tems the mil­i­tary uses to, among oth­er things, track threat­en­ing air­craft over the Unit­ed States.

The sit­u­a­tion was high­light­ed March 1 when the Fed­er­al Avi­a­tion Admin­is­tra­tion, which owns the radar, filed an objec­tion to a pro­posed 338-tur­bine wind farm in north-cen­tral Ore­gon on behalf of the North Amer­i­can Aero­space Defense Com­mand and U.S. North­ern Com­mand, which said the wind tur­bines were dis­rupt­ing radar. The com­mands, which are col­lo­cat­ed in Col­orado, are respon­si­ble for aero­space warn­ing and con­trol and pro­tect­ing the con­ti­nent, respec­tive­ly.

The depart­ment con­tract­ed the Mass­a­chu­setts Insti­tute of Tech­nol­o­gy to study the Ore­gon wind farm issue. MIT researchers found that the tur­bines dis­rupt­ed radar as much as 20 per­cent of the time, fre­quent­ly giv­ing false pos­i­tive read­ings, accord­ing to the report it released to the sub­com­mit­tee. Wind farms dis­rupt radar by block­ing microwave sig­nals from reach­ing intend­ed tar­gets and by cre­at­ing unwant­ed reflec­tions or “clut­ter­ing” of radar sig­nals, they said.

The depart­ment with­drew its objec­tion to the Ore­gon project, which had been in the works for five years, after MIT dis­cov­ered the prob­lems could be mit­i­gat­ed with adjust­ments to the radar set­tings and mod­i­fi­ca­tions to the sys­tems.

Most exist­ing wind tur­bines have not dis­rupt­ed mil­i­tary radar, Robyn said, but as the alter­na­tive ener­gy source grows in usage, so, too, will the dis­rup­tion prob­lems like those cre­at­ed in the Ore­gon project.

Mov­ing for­ward, Robyn said, the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment needs to iden­ti­fy such projects ear­li­er than the cur­rent 30-day noti­fi­ca­tion dead­line to mit­i­gate poten­tial prob­lems with­out undue dis­rup­tion to the projects. Also, she said, fed­er­al depart­ments and agen­cies need to give more atten­tion to the issue, and aggres­sive­ly work to upgrade the radar sys­tems, many of which were built in the 1960s.

The Defense Depart­ment has sharp­ened its focus on the issue by cre­at­ing a direc­tor of oper­a­tional ener­gy posi­tion to serve as a cen­tral point of con­tact, by reach­ing out to the ener­gy indus­try for col­lab­o­ra­tion, and by direct­ing instal­la­tion com­man­ders to engage with local and region­al plan­ning offi­cials on projects in devel­op­ment, Robyn said.

Source:
U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

Team GlobDef

Team GlobDef

Seit 2001 ist GlobalDefence.net im Internet unterwegs, um mit eigenen Analysen, interessanten Kooperationen und umfassenden Informationen für einen spannenden Überblick der Weltlage zu sorgen. GlobalDefenc.net war dabei die erste deutschsprachige Internetseite, die mit dem Schwerpunkt Sicherheitspolitik außerhalb von Hochschulen oder Instituten aufgetreten ist.

Alle Beiträge ansehen von Team GlobDef →