UK Scientists Seek to Make Wind Turbines Invisible

March 14, 2004 by Jeff Shepard

Scientists from QinetiQ (Malvern, Scotland) are using stealth aircraft technology to design wind turbines that are invisible to radar. The research centre has been given funding from the Department of Trade and Industry to find ways of making the giant generators less of a nuisance. The money has been matched by QinetiQ itself, and by NOI Scotland Ltd., a company that makes turbine blades.

Radar operators, including the military, civilian air traffic control and weather forecasters, have found that the rotating blades interfere with radar systems. In recent years, 25 percent of objections to wind farm proposals have been from radar operators. QinetiQ will now look at how the blades can be made less visible to radar, using technology similar to that used for the stealth fighters and bombers of the US.

Researchers will be looking at new materials from which to manufacture the blades. The materials will have to be able to absorb radar waves, but still be strong enough to make blades up to 50 ft long. QinetiQ staff will also be adapting sophisticated computer modelling tools, developed over recent years, to predict how the new stealthy turbines blades will react to radar.