possible radar interference from wind turbines planned for the west coast.
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possible radar interference from wind turbines planned for the west coast.

British high-technology missions systems and information management company BAE Systems Insyte has been invited to, and will, bid for a South African requirement to investigate possible radar interference from wind turbines planned to be established on the country’s west coast.

“Insyte has already done such a study for a wind farm planned to the east of London,” reports Insyte Head of Business Development: Asia Pacific and South Africa Steve Kilvington.

“Heathrow Airport was concerned this would interfere with its air traffic control radars. We were able to establish that wind turbines at the planned location would be below the radar horizon from Heathrow and would not interfere with its radar.”

Reportedly, the South African Air Force (SAAF), which has an air base at Langebaanweg, is concerned that wind turbines could interfere with the base’s radar. Langenbaanweg is the home of the Central Flying School, which carries out the SAAF’s basic flying training.

The potential problem is that the rotating arms of the turbines giant propellers could reflect radar pulses in multiple directions, which could create an interference pattern on the radar screen or, even worse, generate anomalous returns on the screen, confusing the air traffic controllers (there could appear to be more aircraft flying than there really were, or an aircraft’s position, as displayed on the radar screen, might not be its real position) and so causing them to issue instructions that cause, not prevent, a crash.

Insyte has previously worked in South Africa, on phase one of the South African Army’s Ground-based Air Defence System programme. The British company worked with South African companies Reutech Radar Systems and Cybersim on this programme. (BAE Systems bought Cybersim, but subsequently sold it to Saab; BAE Systems owns 20% of Saab).

“South Africa is interesting for business,” says Kilvington.

Insyte operates some 90 laboratories across the UK.

A number of companies are undertaking studies to generate electricity from wind in the Western Cape.

Power utility Eskom is planning a 100-MW wind farm, close to the town of Koekenaap.

The Oelsner Group will also start an environmental-impact assessment for a R1,5-billion 70-MW wind farm near the town of Darling, in the Western Cape. The proposed wind farm will be located on the State-owned Langefontein farm, which was once the site of an apartheid-era military radio station.

(Keith Campbell is attending the DESi as a guest of BAE Systems)

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