The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Wind Energy Technologies Office (WETO) supports interagency efforts to identify and deploy technology and process improvements to mitigate impacts of wind farms on radars. DOE undertakes this work along with the Department of Defense (DOD), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM).

As wind development continues to grow and expand to new areas of the country, the likelihood that some turbines will be located within the line of sight of radar systems also increases. Wind turbines can cause interference for radar systems because their large towers and moving blades reflect electromagnetic radiation.

This interference can create clutter and reduce detection sensitivity, interfering with target tracking and impeding critical weather forecasting. In the case of radars used for air traffic control or defense, wind turbine blades rotate fast enough for radar to sense them as moving objects, and can complicate and interfere with identifying and tracking airborne targets.

Since 2011, WETO has worked with federal agencies, the wind industry, radar providers, and other stakeholders to: 

  • Better evaluate the impacts of wind energy on sensitive radars.
  • Develop and deploy mitigation measures to increase the resilience of existing radars to wind turbines.
  • Encourage the development of next-generation radars resistant to wind turbine interference.

WETO is addressing the potential impacts of operating wind turbines on defense and civilian radar systems as part of an interagency effort with the Wind Turbine Radar Interference Mitigation Working Group. This group works to understand the impact of wind systems on radar, promote potential technical solutions to mitigate impacts, and promote advanced capacity of future radar systems. 

WETO has continued its leadership to address wind turbine-radar interference by: 

  • Leading the renewal of a 5-year interagency agreement to continue the Wind Turbine Radar Interference Mitigation Working Group efforts to understand and reduce wind turbine interference with radar operations as an impediment to future wind energy development.   
  • Working with the FAA to optimize radar software to better filter wind turbine clutter for existing air traffic control and other radar systems under FAA’s control.
  • Publishing a report that provides an update on the efforts of the Wind Radar Interference Mitigation Working Group as well as the status of testing, certification, and deployment of mitigation options.
  • Updating the Federal Interagency Wind Turbine Radar Interference Mitigation Strategy focusing on future activities for 2023 through 2028, including offshore wind development.
  • Maintaining the DOE-hosted Wind Turbine Radar Interference WINDExchange to house past and current information and enhance access for stakeholders.  
  • Maintaining the U.S. Wind Turbine Database and viewer, which DOD, DHS, and NOAA use to perform crucial operational impact assessments of wind turbines on radar. 
  • In collaboration with BOEM, maintaining a database that details the locations of domestic offshore wind turbines. Once the projects are built, those offshore wind turbine locations will be incorporated into the U.S. Wind Turbine Database.

Screenshot of U.S. Wind Turbine Database.

Source: U.S. Geological Survey

Learn more in the Wind Turbine Radar Interference Mitigation Fact Sheet or visit WINDExchange for additional information about the wind-radar interference mitigation strategy and approaches. 

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