QinetiQ expertise helps French Government to plan new wind farms

QinetiQ is the first company authorised to assist the French Government in cutting planning red tape surrounding new wind farms, by predicting whether turbines will interfere with weather radar.

Planning applications for wind farms in France are frequently rejected due to concerns raised by national meteorological service Météo-France about their potential impact on weather radar. In an attempt to break the deadlock, the Government passed a law in November 2014 allowing private contractors to conduct independent impact assessments on its behalf. If the contractor can prove the accuracy of its predictions, it receives validation from the Government and its recommendations can be legally recognised in the consideration of planning applications.

QinetiQ’s radar impact assessment method is the first to achieve this validation, having successfully modelled interference caused by an existing wind farm in a blind test. The QinetiQ team used its classified code to produce predicted data, which was then compared side-by-side with confirmed measurements taken at two wind farms in Normandy by Météo-France. The test confirmed that QinetiQ’s method is able to predict radar interference with the high degree of accuracy required by the Government.

Dr. Thierry Le Gall, Technology Exploitation Manager at QinetiQ, said: “France has faced a dilemma when seeking to build new wind farms. New turbines cannot be approved until their potential impact on weather radar is fully understood, but until now there has been no satisfactory way of predicting their impact before they are built.”

“QinetiQ has demonstrated that, using expertise and technology originally developed for military applications, it is possible to accurately model the effect that a proposed site will have on meteorological readings. This is a big step in enabling France to increase its adoption of renewable energy, while offering Météo-France assurance that this progress will not harm its ability to make accurate weather forecasts.”

“We are keen to pursue opportunities to repeat this exciting achievement in other countries, in the EU and beyond.”

QinetiQ’s radar impact assessment method is the result of collaboration between teams across the company, drawing on expertise in fields such as air traffic management, stealth technology, and radar development.

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