In an Australian-first, radar-activated aviation lights have been installed on turbines at the Lal Lal Wind Farm east of Ballarat.
Instead of leaving aviation lights on at all times on the turbines, or removing them altogether, the lights will turn on whenever an aeroplane comes within four to six kilometres.
The aircraft’s distance, speed, and heading are tracked by a central controller once it enters a set warning zone, which then makes the decision on whether or not to activate the lights.
A Lal Lal Wind Farms release notes the lights are then kept on until the aircraft leaves the area, or after a set amount of time.
“The incidence of light aircraft operating in the area at night is quite low,” the release notes.
“An exception would be with emergency aircraft that may be required to attend to bushfires.”
Commercial aircraft operate too high to activate the system.
The lights could also be activated in foggy or cloudy conditions.
The Vestas IntelliLights are bolted onto the turbines themselves, and are part of planning permit requirements.
Not every wind farm requires aviation lights, and in some cases, they have been removed or deactivated – the height of the turbines or their proximity to regional airports can be factors.
The Lal Lal Wind Farm’s southern sector is about 20 kilometres away from the Lethbridge airport.
The finer details are to be determined by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, according to Lal Lal Wind Farms, including the radius of the warning zone.
CASA will monitor the performance for the equipment – the organisation is not responsible for regulating it, but there are national guidelines which have been met.
While common in the United States and Europe for more than 10 years, 29 of the 38 turbines near Yendon will be the first in Australia to use the technology.
Right now, 37 of the turbines in the northern sector of the project are complete and undergoing testing, before construction ramps up in the southern sector around Elaine.
The turbines have a maximum height of 161 metres.
Original article sourced from The Courier.