Here at Pager Power we are proud to have been a part of many firsts. This has included identification of the site for radar in-fill at the (then) largest wind development in Europe, providing glint and glare analysis for the first consented large ground-based solar scheme in Ireland and publication of independent guidance material for solar developers around the world.
As a truly global business, we provide solutions for developers all around the world, and have now worked on projects in 50 countries across Europe, Africa, the Americas, the Middle East and Australasia.
Much of this work has been on large-scale renewable energy projects, with some also coming from smaller scale renewables and property development.
As technical experts, much of our work is underpinned by modelling of signal propagation and interaction with proposed and existing infrastructure. Most often, this is in the context of aviation and telecommunication systems.
The laws of physics are the same all over the world, which means the heart of the modelling we undertake is fairly consistent regardless of where we are working. The main differences in this regard are skin-deep. For example, co-ordinate systems, terrain data sources, sun paths relative to an observer, nominal values for refraction and solar irradiance can vary from one geographic location to another.
Notwithstanding these variations, the maths of the problem remains unchanged.
Whilst the issues surrounding new developments are comparable or even identical from one country to the next from a technical perspective, almost everything else is highly variable. Constraints and requirements for new developments are generally set by:
- Planning authorities charged with granting or refusing permission.
- Industry stakeholders and regulatory bodies.
- How risk is managed based on planning regulations and laws.
Each of these entities in different countries can view proposed developments very differently.
Planning Authority Requirements
Authorities that grant or refuse permission can take very different stances on what a developer has to demonstrate in order to receive permission. For example, there was a time when all proposed solar developments in South Africa required an accompanying glint and glare assessment specifically for aviation, even if the developments were located some 80 kilometres from the nearest airport (this requirement was revised in the last couple of years).
Industry stakeholders can be focussed on very different technical issues. For example, the predominant concern for wind turbine development in the UK with regard to Primary Surveillance Radar is the potential for false returns a.k.a. ‘radar clutter’. Stakeholders in other countries e.g. Belgium, France and Ukraine typically defer to guidance from Eurocontrol which puts more emphasis on shadowing, which is a rare consideration for PSR installations in the UK (although this does vary from one stakeholder to another).
In India, the Airports Authority of India typically co-ordinates very closely with individual airports and solar developers in order to ensure that glint and glare effects have been satisfactorily assessed. In most European countries, this is predominantly left to the individual airport in consultation with the planning authority, with overarching aviation authorities taking a more ‘hands-off’ attitude unless specifically brought in for one reason or another. In the USA, the Federal Aviation Administration did implement very detailed requirements for solar photovoltaic developments on airports themselves, but more recently they have shifted their stance to put the onus on the airport to make the decision.
Risk is managed in different ways in different countries. In the UK and the Republic of Ireland for example, it typically falls to a developer to demonstrate robustly that their development will not cause any adverse impacts, or present the mitigation strategy in the event that an impact is predicted, before receiving permission. If, for example, a developer was judged to have demonstrated that there would be no impact on an airport radar, they could receive consent with no condition pertaining to radar impact. If adverse effects were subsequently to occur, this would essentially become the radar operator’s problem to solve. By contrast, in South Africa, developments can gain consent on the proviso that any adverse impact they subsequently cause must be fixed at the developer’s cost. These two approaches give rise to very different strategies from developers, accordingly.
There are many other factors that vary between different countries. Some of these are very well defined, such as who the statutory consultees are for a given development type. Some differences are more nuanced, such as the level of co-operation and overall attitude from governmental or private stakeholders towards developers of new infrastructure. The formal processes for collecting and responding to concerns surrounding an application can vary from one place to another, including the associated timescales.
Pager Power is proud and grateful to have worked in such a wide range of countries with such a diverse range of people. We are hopeful that we can extend the list of countries even further.
If you have a project that you would like to talk to us about, feel free to get in touch, wherever you are!