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How it works – C Speed LightWave Radar

How it works – C Speed LightWave Radar
February 24, 2015 Mike Watson

An available low cost system for mitigating the effects of wind farms on air traffic control (ATC) radar systems. The system is made by C Speed based in Liverpool, New York and is called LightWave.

LightWave is a solid state S-Band radar whose technology is generally similar to the wind turbine affected radar.

If you were to buy this mitigation system today it would take some time to get this system certified for use in the UK. However this is also true of the competition.

LightWave Radar Siting

LightWave Radar SitingThere are two main approaches both with their advantages.

You can either site near the radar you are mitigating. The advantages of this are:

  • Easier integration due to easy synchronization and minimized slant-range error
  • Fewer security issues as the radar will normally be in a secure area alongside the existing radar

You can site so that the wind turbines are shielded from the radar by terrain. The advantages of this approach are:

  • Fewer false returns from wind turbines
  • Better detection of aircraft
  • Lower radio spectrum requirement

Technical Specifications

C Speed publishes the following technical specifications in the LightWave radar brochure [1]:

ParameterValue
Frequency BandS-Band
Frequency Range2700 – 3100 MHz
Rotation Range12 rpm (typical) 45 rpm (max)
Instrumented Range20 nautical miles (37 kilometres)
Operating ModesHigh PRF and Low PRF
DesignConventional 2D Primary Surveillance Radar with rotating antenna

Trials

C Speed LightWave Radar TrialsAny mitigation solution seeks to detect all aircraft whilst failing to detect any wind turbines.

In a US Department of Defence trial there were certainly other systems that appeared to outperform it on this particular metric.

It has been trialled and demonstrated in England, Scotland and Texas.

Alternate Mitigation Solutions

Summary

The main advantage is the technology is relatively conventional and well understood. The main disadvantage could be the amount of radio spectrum required to work well.

References

[1] LightWave S Band Solid-State Primary Surveillance Radar, C Speed, 2013. (Last Accessed 24/02/2015).

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