by Jon Sanders
Research Editor and Senior Fellow, Regulatory Studies, John Locke Foundation
Massive turbines can disrupt military flight paths and training and also interfere with radar surveillance capabilities, hampering the military’s tracking of aircraft and ships suspected of transporting illegal drugs to the U.S.
For that reason, the North Carolina General Assembly imposed a temporary permitting moratorium for wind energy facilities (or expansions) to allow for study of how those facilities impact military operations.
Still, it’s the fashion of renewable-energy interests and sympathetic media to pretend that any concerns about costs imposed by renewable energy facilities are (pardon the pun) off base. Just look at how North Carolina State University, which is a university, is forbidding its experts on solar energy from sharing their full expertise with the citizens of North Carolina.
But every endeavor has costs and benefits. And thinking adults should take them into consideration in order to make informed decisions.
Like North Carolina, the state of New York is having to evaluate what kind of effect more wind turbines will have near a military installation. It’s a potentially big problem. The Watertown Daily Times recently reported:
For military operations, an increase in turbines could create challenges in viewing traffic and a planned expansion of unmanned aircraft.
The airfield houses Army and Air Force helicopters and drones, and is used for training by units across the military, including those using live bombs on its Range 48.
“It’s a unique capability for an Army installation,” Col. Laske said.
The turbines at the Maple Ridge wind farm could be seen in blue dots on radar screens, flickering as the turbine blades turned. Each of the moving turbines displayed similarly to a moving airplane, creating some stress as the radar system tracks all aircraft within its viewing range of 160 miles. If overloaded, the system may drop legitimate aircraft to follow the turbine movements.
“The system is still processing them as targets, and getting close to saturation,” said Derek R. Kallen, air traffic control manager. “It gets cluttered pretty quick.”
Mr. Kallen said their software can block activity in the area of the turbines, but it also has the negative effect of creating “a black hole” for air traffic near the turbines.
“It’s not a big issue now, but when you have three to four more projects down there, it becomes a much bigger problem,” Mr. Kallen said, pointing to the screen. “This all disappears.”…
On the weather side of operations, the potential for more projects could limit the effectiveness of the Montague weather radar station, maintained by Air Force personnel based at the airfield. The radar, which has a radius of 248 nautical miles, is used by National Weather Service staff in Buffalo and Burlington, Vt.
Forecasters run into issues as outgoing and incoming radio waves used to measure weather hit the turbines, contaminating the information coming back.
“It looks like rain, but it’s just the turbines moving,” said Capt. Patrick Phillippi, of the Air Force’s 18th Weather Squadron, Detachment 1.
The turbines also impact radar by creating a “ghost echo,” a secondary layer of map data that can incorrectly show weather activity, or underestimate activity taking place.
“That data will be seriously contaminated by the time we get it back,” Capt. Phillippi said.