A brand new, advanced radar at Lowther Hill is set to unlock 2.5GW of renewable energy in a milestone project.

NATS, the UK air traffic management service, has successfully deployed a 3D Primary Surveillance Radar system that is able to mitigate against the impact of wind turbines. The move will allow multiple proposed wind farm developments to go ahead, with the potential to release further megawatts in future. It is a first for UK civil air traffic management and will support’s the Government’s plan to deliver 10GW of onshore wind power by 2030.

Typically, wind turbines can cause interference to conventional radar, appearing as ‘clutter’ that can potentially hide or be mistaken for aircraft, something that’s an obvious safety concern. In most cases, NATS can work with the turbine developer to mitigate the impact using a range of techniques, but those aren’t always long term, scalable solutions.

The introduction of a new radar system that can better filter this ‘clutter’ means developers can pursue vital renewable energy projects with confidence, while the on-going safety of air traffic operations is assured. 

Guy Adams, NATS Strategy & Commercial Director said: “NATS has long been committed to working with the renewables industry to find the best way to mitigate the impact of wind turbines. This new radar – the first to be deployed in UK civil aviation – is another tool to help us do that. It will unlock a huge amount of vital renewable energy, while making sure air traffic operations continue to be safe and efficient.”

A part of NATS’ nationwide network, the Lowther Hill radar is used to safely manage air traffic within a range of around 120 miles. The way the project has been structured has seen NATS Services Ltd cover the costs of deploying the new radar, with that to be recouped over a number of years from the wind farm developers that are now able to proceed with projects that might otherwise have stalled. The new radar went online in September following two years of engineering work and thorough flight testing and integration.