One of our postdoctoral students in the School, Dr Laith Rashid, won the EAWE Excellent Young Wind Doctor Award last year for his research into the effects of wind turbines on radars.
For the first time, as a result of Dr Rashid's work on the EPSRC's Supergen Project, a standard desktop PC is able to run detailed simulations of the effects of complete wind farms on radar systems operating nearby. It is expected that this work will have a positive impact on the safety of marine and air traffic near wind farms.
Dr Rashid, who has been in his Post-Doctoral position for over a year now and expects to continue working on the project until 2013, said: "Over the past few years there have been a lot of objections from government organisations and radar operators about the construction of wind farms which may affect the performance of radar such as used for Air Traffic Control and other applications. This can be safety critical so it is extremely important to find solutions to this problem. Due to their large size and the rotation of their blades wind turbines can appear to the radar as aircraft or other large targets.
"So under the Supergen project we were tasked with researching and modelling the radar interference and find possible solutions. That's where I came in with Prof Brown.
"Currently we are trying to exploit the models that we've developed and further extend their capabilities. In this way we hope to be able to help minimise these impacts so that wind farms can be deployed more readily. The models show very good potential, and can be developed further to meet industrial standard expectations. So we're thinking about using this work in a commercial way. But right now we are extending the models for marine radars to model more complex radar systems. We are also engaging with wind turbine manufacturers, wind farm developers and radar key stakeholders to help build a computer simulation tool that will assist them in meeting the Governments targets for wind energy."
Prof Brown, who led the project and nominated Dr Rashid for the award which was presented at the Delft Technical University in the Netherlands, added: "This research provides a truly original insight into the effects of wind farms, not just single turbines, on radar systems.
"Wind farms can indeed substantively affect the safety critical and other radar systems both onshore, in the marine environment and on airborne platforms.
"What is unique and important about Dr Rashid’s work is that for the first time a comprehensive simulation of a whole wind farm (as well as a single turbine) is possible within a normal workstation computational environment.
"The result is an accurate yet computationally attractive whole wind farm simulation including the mutual interactions between turbines in an array.
"The power of the approach is such that it allows such details as the effect of the lightning protection system applied to the blades and the use of carbon fibre or radar absorbing materials in part of the blade structure to be included in the simulation.
"Dr Rashid's thesis concentrates on marine radar as this has been largely ignored in prior literature yet is extremely important in maintaining safety at sea near offshore wind farms. The work however has now been extended to look at aircraft and other applications"