BWEA, the UK's leading renewable energy association, announced today a major development in overcoming aviation objections to wind farm developments.
Currently, 4700 Megawatts worth of renewable wind energy projects are held up in the planning system due to military and civil aviation concerns.
Working with member companies, BWEA has built up an industry fund of £3.2 million, which will be invested in advanced technologies designed to solve issues such as wind turbine interference with radar.
Maria McCaffery, BWEA Chief Executive, said: "The Aviation Fund shows the wind industry's commitment to resolve aviation objections as a barrier to further wind energy deployment. We have brought key parties to the table and have progressed negotiations from a Memorandum of Understanding last year, to the establishment of a fund management company to administer and oversee deployment of the funds raised."
In June 2008 the wind sector and major stakeholders with an interest in aviation issues such as the Ministry of Defence and NATS En Route, signed a Memorandum of Understanding setting out how Government and industry will work together to overcome radar challenges. The initiative follows senior politicians, including Gordon Brown, insisting on a more 'joined up' approach to wind energy deployment.
The Aviation Investment Fund Company Ltd (AIFC) will look at R&D solutions to the problem of wind turbines being detected on radar displays.
When rotating, wind turbine blades show up on radar displays, which is of concern to both military and civil radar operators. The AIFC has already identified a number of mitigation technologies likely to yield a solution.
The investors into AIFC have collectively pledged up to £3.2M into the central fund, and the Board held its first meeting on 11 March. The first companies to step forward are Airtricity, Banks Developments, E.ON Climate & Renewables, EDF Energy Renewables, Ecotricity, Falck Renewables, Novera Energy Plc, RES UK & Ireland, RWE Npower Renewables, ScottishPower Renewables, Vattenfall, West Coast Energy, Wind Prospect and Your Energy.
It is hoped other companies with current or future potential wind farm aviation issues will add to the fund to help finance solutions that will benefit the industry as a whole.
Simon Christian, Chair of the AIFC Board and Project Development Director at ScottishPower Renewables, said: "Creating this aviation fund is a tremendous effort by wind farm developers in the current economic climate. We now look forward to funding new and innovative technologies to overcome aviation planning objections to ensure the timely delivery of renewable energy projects to meet Government climate change targets."
Maria McCaffery, BWEA Chief Executive, said: "The industry has delivered on its part of the bargain. We look forward to building upon the excellent early progress and remain hopeful that the relevant Government and public stakeholders will play their part as well. We are now calling on the Government to financially back up our initiative."