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Conference programme 

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Poster session

Lead Session Chair:
Stephan Barth, Managing Director, ForWind - Center for Wind Energy Research, Germany
Mike Watson Pager Power, United Kingdom
Mike Watson (1) F P
(1) Pager Power, Great Cornard, Suffolk, United Kingdom

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Presenter's biography

Biographies are supplied directly by presenters at OFFSHORE 2015 and are published here unedited

Michael Watson is a chartered engineer who worked for telecommunications and energy companies before establishing Pager Power. He undertook his first radar impact assessment in 2002 following a planning objection from Prestwick Airport. Mike continues to undertake radar assessments and has worked on 24% of UK wind farms. The company undertakes projects throughout the world having worked in 34 countries. Mike developed a radar mitigation solution for the 300MW Whitelee wind farm in Scotland and writes advanced software for assessing wind turbines, radar, television, communications links and solar reflections. Mike regularly helps resolve radar planning objections.


Reducing investor risk & increasing productivity with new accurate offshore wind farm radar tool


Wind turbines can affect aeronautical, marine, meteorological and military radar. This means that offshore projects are delayed; have unplanned mitigation costs and are sometimes stopped entirely. Gigawatts of wind development have been adversely affected by radar in Germany, France, Czech Republic, Belgium, Netherlands, Sweden, Ireland, United Kingdom, United States, Canada, South Africa and other countries. The radar impact of wind farms has to be assessed to determine whether the wind development will be acceptable and whether some form of technical mitigation solution is required. Any uncertainties in the radar assessment process result in increased investor risk and reduced developer productivity.


The author’s company has a range of online assessment tools that developers can use themselves to assess the impact of wind turbines on radar systems. There is a project, supported by the European Regional Development Fund, to significantly enhance accuracy and confidence in the results of the tool – specifically for offshore wind turbines. The project started in September 2014 and will end by March 2015. Existing wind turbine radar assessment tools do not account for varying sea state which affects radar propagation. By accounting for varying sea state, beaches, onshore vegetation and structures radar assessments become increasingly accurate and reliable.

Main body of abstract

Radar operators often have the power to block wind farm proposals. This normally occurs via written objection responses to planning/permitting authorities and additional correspondence with wind farm developers. For a wind development to be deemed to be acceptable the radar operator has to be satisfied that either (a) there will be no unacceptable impact (b) the development is outside the radar’s safeguarded area or (c) there is a satisfactory mitigation solution. There are often time consuming negotiations regarding the likely technical and operational impacts as well as the suitability, availability and cost of mitigation solutions not to mention who takes on the responsibility for any residual risk.

Assessment of impact can occur in a number of ways but the most common assessments are Radar Line of Sight calculations that account for terrain, earth curvature and refraction and Radar Detectability calculations that take into account additional factors such as diffraction, radar power and sensitivity. All calculations account for the vertical path profile between the radar and the wind turbine. This profile is normally derived from a digital terrain model (DTM) or digital surface model (DSM). Accuracy and reliability depends on (a) vertical accuracy of the DTM/DSM; (b) post spacing of the DTM/DSM; (c) accounting for waves; (d) accounting for tidal variations; (e) the effect of beaches {sometimes exposed and sometimes covered by water}; (f) accounting for buildings, structures and vegetation; (g) abnormal meteorological conditions and (h) computing algorithms used to generate the profile from the available data.


The author’s company will have completed a research and development programme to produce customised radar assessments specifically for offshore wind turbines. The programme is likely to deliver the following accuracy, reliability and clarity enhancements: (a) accounting for tides; (b) accounting for waves; (c) more accurate path profile algorithm; (d) improved processing of vegetation and structures; (e) better understanding of risk; (f) reports customised specifically for offshore developments; (g) increased accuracy by combining multiple data sources and (h) increased reliability through combining multiple data sources.

Learning objectives
Delegates will learn about the very latest radar assessment technology developments. They will understand the three major sources of risk that radar presents to the financiers of offshore wind developments. Participants will gain an understanding of some of the inaccuracies in radar modelling as well as the latest enhancements in accuracy, reliability and clarity achieved by modelling waves and tides using a custom online assessment tool.