back to article Ofcom gets puffed out over wind turbines

UK regulator Ofcom has been looking at the way wind turbines affect microwave radio transmissions and radar signals, and has concluded that we just have no idea if it would be safe to put more turbines near radio connections. There are around 40,000 microwave links in the UK, generally operating over line-of-sight connections …


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  1. kempsy

    Silly question?

    Could we not just put Microwave repeater stations throughout the wind farm to aid the propogation of the signal?

    In these cases wouldn't the fresnel zone be small and limited to the spaces between the turbines and thus suffer no interference?

    I suppose this could either be hideously expensive and/or complicated if it were possible.

  2. Dave_H

    Why not replace with broadband?

    Oh yes, let me think...

    That's perhaps because a bit of wet string operates better than broadband in most of the countryside where these microwave links are situated.

    So yet again the future of this country (this time in energy generation) is shackled by the lack of a proper telecommunications infrastructure. This is what OFCOM should be looking at!

  3. General A. Annoying

    Yet another reason...

    why wind farms are such a waste of time.

    Let's forget about them and find something else.

    How about Nuclear.

    Static buildings, smaller footprints, low emissions, no shredded birds...

  4. Simon Neill

    Solution #1:

    Stop using such unreliable crap as microwave links that tend to be screwed up by humidity never mind wind farms.

  5. TeeCee Gold badge

    That report.

    "....the conclusion is only that more research is needed."

    The gravy train is arriving on platform one. All those wishing to fill their pockets doing sod-all^H^H^H^H^H^H^Hthis valuable research should board now.

  6. Luther Blissett

    I think we can draw at least one conclusion

    Wait till our yoof discover that the reason they can't txt &c any more is the hippies and greenies and don quixotes and their windmills.

    Kids - saving the planet from the carbon cult - give them a chance.

  7. Anonymous Coward

    Ah, the usual mistakes from the "go nuclear" crowd

    >How about Nuclear.

    >Static buildings, smaller footprints, low emissions, no shredded birds...

    Running out of fuel within a few years...

    Seriously, if you're going to go nuclear, please make sure to mention that the only available technology we have to use nuclear power for a reasonable length of time is to build "breeder" reactors. (Roll on fusion, zero point, or eye-of-harmony power...)

    Oh, and also remember to point out that nuclear is currently only a shade cheaper than some stuff favoured by our soap dodger brethren, but will be more expensive as the fuel dries up.

  8. Nic Brough


    So how come other countries are littered with wind farms and not having these problems?

  9. Dave


    There is only one good use for Microwaves.

    End of story.

    If you don't own the land, you don't have any right to an un-obstructed view, whether that be from your window, your TV antenna or a comms link.

  10. Anonymous Coward


    The cross-sectional area of a wind turbine is at maximum about 4% of the swept area - it's called the solidity. Even in a wind farm, it's very unlikely that line-of-sight interference gives you more than about 10% solidity.

    Moreover, the tip speeds of the largest wind turbines are well below the speed of sound (340 metres a second); microwave communications sit at about 300MHz, and of course travel at the speed of light. It's very, very unlikely that there would be any diffraction of an incoming photon..

    In summary, "Aegis and ERA were paid handsomely for their consultation work, and came to the conclusion that additional research was needed in order to further enhandsome their accounts."

  11. Martin Lyne

    @ General A. Annoying

    You missed out

    "Dependence on foreign, non-renenable fuel"

    Unless you know of any UK Uranium deposits?

    Wind, does get importd from other places, but at a significantly lower cost.

    HVDC grid network for round-the-clock renewable energy.

    We had a microwave link at uni, they then decided to replace with IR connections. On the coast. Where it gets foggy.

    Oh look, the network is down.

    MW-Tx ---> Windfarm Rx -> Underground cable under wind farm -> Windfarm Tx --->MW-Rx

    I'm not too sure about the overlapping microwave caused by original/rebroadcast signals. Would it be hard to limit it only to the Fresnel area?

  12. Alistair
    Thumb Down

    Lets try to avoid stirring up hysteria, please

    I'd prefer this article if it had not used the word "safe" in the leading paragraph. Many of the less-well technically educated masses who naturally fear the things they don't understand, are very scared of microwaves. And wind turbines. Would be better if you just mentioned the risk of screwing up the microwave links.

    Secondly, I thought those things used composite blades? Perhaps this should be mandatory.

    And finally @Luther, you have just failed the Turing test.

  13. Luther Blissett

    @Alistair @Luther, you have just failed the Turing test

    For that do I get the big fat 10 or the skinny nul? You ain't seen nuffink yet. For my next trick, the Rorschach test.

  14. Roger Jenkins

    Round and around

    "Not only do wind turbines have an annoying habit of spinning round"

    Surely the blades spin around.

  15. Graham Marsden

    @ Roger Jenkins

    And the turbines spin around depending on which way the wind is going...!

  16. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    ...any UK Uranium deposits?

    Sellafield car park? (Well we've got to do *something* with it.)

  17. Astarte

    Vertical Sails?

    I assume that vertical rotating sails as used on some sea-going vessels have been ruled out for some reason. They could be as tall as necessary and would probably not be so alarming to some people. I know almost nothing about RF propagation characteristics but it appears from the report that it is the indeterminacy of radar cross-section that causes the problems. The Fresnel effect has been known about for a long time and can be allowed for given a stable line-of–site scatter and attenuation. Call me silly but I would suspect that a vertical (cylindrical) sail would be perceived as a more stable interruption or disturbance. The diameter of the current rotor designs relates directly to the attenuation which is further compounded by the incidence angle which varies in direct relation to the prevailing wind direction. The radar cross-section of a vertical sail might not appear to vary so significantly as a result of wind direction. Some variation will result from feathering used to control the speed. One advantage of vertical sail is that the gearbox and electrical power conversion gear does not have to be balanced on top of the tower – it would be at ground level where access for maintenance would be better.

    Vertical wind turbines would probably has less effect on the local avian population and aliens in their UFOs would probably think they were just chimneys so life would be better all round.

  18. Stephen Jenner

    Tongue... Meet Cheek.

    Wind farms are VITAL if we are to meet our power generation needs for the future... We need to replace Drax, and our government has a cunning plan to build 7000 offshore wind turbines (one per day until Drax shuts down) sadly this is not possible and is not being done either, the tools are not available. Even then, the wind does not blow all of the time, so a "conventional" power station will need to be kept on standby to step in at these times.

    I've just had a mad idea, why don't we just build the conventional power station and forget about the 7000 useless wind turbines, with the money saved we could build another dozen "conventional" plants and sell electricity to the French.

    Remember, even microwave systems won't work if we don't have the power and without the wind turbines we won't have to concern ourselves with cigars.

    As far as "renewables" go, we live on an island with the second highest tides on the globe, so tidal power would make more sense.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Jagged Stumps

    In 50 years or sooner when windfarms are discredited as they surely will be, where will the money come from to recover the rotting towers?

  20. An nonymous Cowerd

    Olkiluoto Nuclear Power Plant

    if you look at the most recently construction started Finnish Reactor, some say it will have realistically taken around 19 years from planning to construction! Wikipedia claims that the license was issued in April 2000, and that the electrical generation date is currently (!) sometime in 2012, but will probably be later.

    So lets see, no turbines 'cos they interfere with Eastenders, it's 2009, so if we start planning now, in the UK there'll be enough power to actually WATCH Eastenders in 2009 +19, plus a couple of years for PFI troughing and consultancy reports = lights ON around 2030? do we mind waiting??

    of course if we just invest in (lukewarm) Fusion, that'll be ready about 2059, they tell me

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