by Pavel Davidyuk, Specialist Consultant - Aviation Safety
According to the Clean Energy Council, wind power is currently the cheapest source of large-scale renewable energy. Along with various government incentives, this means that in the future we will see more wind farms constructed across Australia. The maturing technology in this sector means that fewer turbines are required to produce the same energy; however, technological advances in wind turbine blades means that wind turbines are growing taller and have greater potential to penetrate operational airspace.
Currently, to maintain safe aircraft operation in the vicinity of a wind farm at night and in conditions of reduced visibility, CASA may recommend or require the provision of obstacle lighting on wind turbines with a height of 110 m or more. At night the lighting of wind turbines may reduce the risk of aircrew flying into a wind turbine but also provide a source of light pollution to the surrounding community. To balance safety outcomes associated with obstacle lighting with community concern regarding light pollution, an aircraft detection lighting system (ADLS) could be considered in addition to the traditional obstacle lighting solutions.
ADLS is a radar surveillance system which monitors the airspace over and around the wind farm and only activates the obstruction lights when aircraft are in the vicinity of the wind farm. As a result, pilots are made aware of the wind farm location and the public are not disturbed by light emissions during night hours except when necessary.
ADLS provide comprehensive 360-degree coverage with an effective range of up to 30 km. On average, the lights of the system are deactivated approximately 96% of the time.
Several wind farm proponents are considering installing an ADLS on their wind farms in Australia, but currently, there is no published regulatory or approvals framework for the introduction of ADLS in Australia.
To find out more about more about costs and the likely approvals framework, please contact us.