French energy company EDF is joining forces with wind turbine firm Vestas to create the world’s first ‘stealth’ wind farm, which is designed to minimize interference to radar systems. The site, called the “Ensemble Eolien Catalan” wind farm, will be built near Perpignan and it will produce 96 megawatts, making it the biggest wind farm in France.
“It is a world premiere for this new technology,” an EDF spokeswoman said in a press release. It is also a breakthrough for wind technology – dozens of wind farm projects have been blocked or delayed due to concerns about potential radar interference, which can mask the signals of other objects. As a result, companies like Vestas have put years of research into radar signature reduction. Vestas have said their new turbine blades will give off a much smaller radar signature.
“We have used surface treatment technologies, including those derived from military applications,” said Nicolas Wolff, who is head of the Danish firm’s French unit.
The new turbines will use technology similar to those utilized on stealth aircraft, which uses a combination of shapes, angled surfaces and radar-absorbing coatings to mask their “radar cross section.”
While the technology has been tested on two turbines in France, Vestas have said that they need one to two years of research before they are confident enough to export it to the UK and USA.
In France, close to 6,000MW of wind farm projects have been blocked because of fear of interference with military or weather radar. Currently, the French army must be consulted about any wind farms planned within 30 km of its radar stations and is the main source of resistance when it comes to the construction of new sites.