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Communications: planning issues for wind turbines

Communications: planning issues for wind turbines
December 6, 2013 Kai Frolic

Solutions to Impacts on Communication Systems

Communications Online Chart Microwave Link

Identification of the communication systems that are operational in the vicinity of a proposed development allows for efficient management of potential issues. (You can see if your UK site would be affected by historical microwave communications links through our online Microwave Link Chart. For sites in other countries, please contact us.)

Detailed modelling of any identified communications systems allows constraints on the proposed site to be quantified.

Often such constraints can be accommodated within the design of the development. In cases where this is not achievable, an alternative solution must be implemented.

In general, it is advised to assess the constraints on a development imposed by communication systems as early as possible. Addressing communication system impacts can be a time consuming process and should be undertaken in parallel with other scoping activities.

Planning Issues relating to Communication Systems

Proposed wind farm developments often receive objections due to potential issues with regard to wireless communications systems. Objections are most commonly received from mobile phone network operators, utility companies and emergency services. Concerns can also be raised by other industries such as rail networks.

Addressing such concerns late on in the planning process can add unnecessary, costly and timely delays to a project. For an initial assessment in the early planning stages of your project, you might want to consider using our Microwave Link Chart. Ordered online, it will be with you within 20 working hours.

Importance of Communication Systems

Communications Planning Issues Wind FarmThere are various technologies associated with communications systems. In terms of planning issues for large multi-turbine wind farms, the relevant considerations are generally wireless radio links between two sites or broadcast equipment.

Wireless radio links are usually in the microwave or UHF range, and are used as the backbone of mobile phone networks among other purposes.

Broadcast equipment can be in the microwave, UHF or even VHF range and is often used to communicate with mobile receivers within the transmitter’s vicinity (an example of such a system would be a local wireless broadband scheme).

Communication sites such as those described above are usually considered important on a regional scale. Adverse impacts on such systems are of great concern to the system operator and are likely to carry weight with the relevant planning authority.

Development Impacts on Wireless Communication Systems

Many technical details relating to wireless communication systems vary according to their function. However, they all rely on a transmission of data between a transmitter and a receiver.

Turbines that are located between the transmitter and the receiver have the potential to impair the data transmission, thereby reducing the functionality of the system.

6 Comments

  1. Owen Brookes 8 years ago

    Hi, how can wind turbine interference with mobile phone networks be mitigated. Compensation? Extra transmitters? Thanks Owen (Renewable Energy Student) Please, please help!

  2. Author
    Kai Frolic, Pager Power 8 years ago

    Hi Owen, thanks for your question. There are a few ways of resolving issues at a technical level. The best thing to do is optimise the turbine layout to avoid interference in the first place – which is usually a case of moving them or adjusting the size.

    Failing that, the link itself can be modified, either by re-routing it to avoid the turbines, adjusting the link end heights or using a different technology.
    As you yourself pointed out, extra transmitters could also be provided – although this is one of the more expensive options.

    I hope this is helpful to you – if you would like more technical details or anything else please leave another comment or shoot me an email. Kai.

  3. Ben 7 years ago

    Hi. I am not sure if I am on the correct site for my question but would appreciate if you could help.
    I have a wooden shack with no electricity and early in the year I set up a wind turbine and solar panel. This has kept 3 x 110ah batteries charged since February. My tv aerial has been giving me problems so I fitted it to the turbine mast. Now the turbine has ceased producing power and I wondered if this is the cause. Thank you.

  4. Danny Scrivener, Pager Power 7 years ago

    Hi and thank you for your comment Ben.

    There is no immediate reason why a TV aerial mounted to a wind turbine would stop the turbine from working. I suspect the problem is solely with the wind turbine itself and not the interaction of the TV aerial/TV signals with the turbine.

    Kind regards, Danny

  5. Maciej 7 months ago

    Wind turbine blades are made from the dielectric material, like fiberglass, am I right? Dielectric material can be more or less transparent to electromegnetic field which are radio waves. Radio waves are of different wavelengths. In VHF or UHF part of radio spectrum the radiotelephone systems and low speed modems can work. The broadband radio systems use >1 GHz part of spectrum. Is there a study or data on how far rotating wind turbine blades interfere with radiowaves, depending on their wavelength? Perhaps some blades do not interfere with radio communication in certain part of RF spectrum, please try explain. Rgds, M.

    • admin 7 months ago

      Dear Maciej,

      Thank you for your interest.

      Wind turbine components are typically made of composite materials, including fiberglass in the blades as you mentioned. Metallic elements may be present for lighting strike protection.

      The interaction of electromagnetic waves with wind turbines is complex, one element of this is indeed frequency/wavelength considerations. Many modelling approaches and other analysis styles therefore have a frequency dependence, a simple example being the Fresnel Zones used to safeguard microwave links. In general terms you are right that the wavelength of the signal is relevant when considering the extent to which a wind turbine will cause interference. However, this is certainly not the only factor. Ultimately, the significance of any interference is a multi-variable problem that depends on technical parameters as well as the system purpose and importance.

      Regards, Kai.

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