The Department of Energy and federal agency partners recently completed the first in a series of three radar technology field tests and demonstrations. The Interagency Field Test and Evaluation of Wind-Radar Mitigation Technologies is an $8 million demonstration initiative co-funded by the Energy Department, Department of Defense (DOD), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and Department of Transportation's Federal Aviation Authority (FAA). The demonstration will help industry and government evaluate radar mitigation technologies that are designed to eliminate radar interferences caused by physical and operational effects of wind turbines. Improved radar detection will increase our nation's opportunity to deploy more wind turbines in sites where abundant wind resources interact with air traffic control and other radar systems that are part of the nation's critical radar infrastructure.

Sandia National Laboratories (Sandia) helped organize the field test, which was conducted in Tyler, Minnesota, a location selected for its high concentration of wind turbines and high wind speeds. Sandia worked with local wind farm operators to collect data on specific turbine physical and operational performance. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Lincoln Laboratory, a DOD Research and Development Laboratory, developed the performance models and scientific equipment to compare the field test results and validate the performance of the radar technologies.

Multiple agencies rely on radar systems to protect our nation and this interagency field test and demonstration effort is proving vital for the acceptance of new wind turbine radar mitigation technologies. Since 2000, wind generation capacity in the United States has increased from 5 GW to 46 GW and could grow to as much as 20 percent of the Nation's electricity by 2030. To accommodate future wind energy growth in the United States, new technologies are needed to mitigate the potential interference impacts from wind turbines on radar systems, which include decreased sensitivity, false targets, and corrupted track quality.