Aviation constraints are a huge issue for the wind industry. In 2011, EWEA carried out a survey and found that 19 GW of wind projects were blocked by radar difficulties in the UK, Finland, Sweden, Germany, Czech Republic, France, Spain, Greece and Ireland.
Many difficulties for wind farm developers come from conflicts with obsolete radar equipment and problems associated with keeping track of system upgrades over time. According to Renewable UK, for example, half of all wind farm developments in the UK will face objections from aviation stakeholders on the grounds of radar interference, obstruction or impact to low flying. However, a new promising radar technology could be one way to solve some of these problems.
Cambridge Airport in the south-east of England has signed a deal to use so-called 3D holographic radar technology. Its creators claim that the technology is the first of its kind that can reliably discriminate between wind turbines and aircraft based on differences in their behaviour.
The French government will launch an offshore wind tender worth around 1GW by the end of the year, Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault revealed at the weekend. He made the announcement during a government-hosted conference on the environment at which he and President Francois Hollande promised a plan to kick-start the renewables industry in France.
The previous government under the leadership of Nicholas Sarkozy awarded tenders to build offshore wind farms to produce 2 GW of energy in April, and this new tender is being seen as the second part of the initial offer. A full second round should be launched next year. The French wind energy association said the announcement was “good news”, but called for the government to “rapidly envisage a third tender for 3 GW” if the country were to meet its objectives of producing 6 GW from offshore wind turbines by 2020.
Delphine Batho, French Minister for Ecology
The French minister for ecology has promised her government will set down stable rules for renewable energies as the wind industry demands action to save it from the “critical” state is has been in since May when France’s highest administrative court, the Council of State, asked the European Court of Justice (ECJ) to rule whether the country’s premium purchase price for onshore wind constituted state aid.
“We will define stable rules for renewable energies for the duration of the government’s five-year mandate,” says Delphine Batho in the September issue of the French sustainable development magazine Terra Eco. She admits that “in the past few years, the incessant changes to rules, purchase prices, moratoriums etc., have profoundly destabilised” the industry. These “rules” are expected to be discussed at a conference on the environment to be hosted by the government on 14-15 September.
Support for the onshore wind industry in France has blown hot and cold in recent months, but government backing for offshore was reinforced in April by its decision to award tenders to build offshore wind farms to produce 2 GW of energy. French company Nass&Wind Offshore, is taking full advantage of this momentum and investing in LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) measuring devices – a move it believes will give it a competitive advantage when the government decides to release a second offshore tender later this year.
LiDAR is an optical remote sensing technology that Nass&Wind is using to measure the speed of wind and turbulence up to an altitude of 200 metres – higher than the nacelle generally located 100 metres above sea level, says the company. Nass&Wind has now installed two of these devices off the coast of western France to try to accurately determine the power production potential of planned offshore wind farms.
Wind power will be the second biggest contributor to global renewable electricity generation by 2017, according to a ground-breaking report by the International Energy Agency (IEA).
Despite economic uncertainties in many countries, global power generation from renewable sources including wind will increase by more than 40% to almost 6,400 terawatt hours (TWh) – roughly the equivalent of one-and-a-half times current electricity production in the US, predicts the Medium-Term Renewable Energy Market Report 2012.
This is the first time the IEA has devoted a medium-term report to renewable power sources and the agency says this is “a recognition of the dynamic and increasing role of renewable energy in the global power mix”. It forecasts that renewable electricity generation will expand by 1,840 TWh between 2011 and 2017, almost 60% above the 1 160 TWh growth registered between 2005 and 2011.