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News > Air Force research enhances ability to mitigate renewable energy siting impacts
Air Force research enhances ability to mitigate renewable energy siting impacts

Posted 9/11/2013   Updated 9/12/2013 Email story   Print story


from Air Force Research Laboratory
Advanced Power Technology Office

9/11/2013 - WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- The Air Force Research Laboratory's Advanced Power Technology Office provides information to enable the Air Force renewable energy development.


Congress requires that the Department of Defense (DoD) assess and make applicable mitigation strategies whenever new renewable energy siting projects may impact military operational and training areas. In support of these efforts, the U.S. Air Force addresses research and evaluation needs through the Air Force Research Laboratory's (AFRL) Advanced Power Technology Office (APTO).

The APTO Program executes technology development and demonstration of alternative energy technologies on behalf of Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force, Energy. APTO's mission is to scope and develop technologies to meet user requirements, progress solutions through Technology Readiness Levels (TRLs), and highlight technology transition activities for Air Force enterprise use.

Two reports from the AFRL--APTO focused on the operational impacts and potential mitigation techniques for wind turbines and other energy technologies. These reports were used to support the Administration in identifying operational impacts caused by renewables, as well as pave the way for further development of mitigation tools.


AFRL - APTO enhanced existing tools and developed new, advanced tools for tracking, reviewing, and evaluating proposed energy developments to support the Air Force, Operations - Bases and Ranges and Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) Energy Siting Clearinghouse. These efforts consisted of:

Mission Capability Assessment Tool (MCAT) Enhancement
Radar Toolbox Wind Farm Impact Tool Development
Experimental Data Collection and Validation

MCAT is a research and tracking tool, enforcing information uniformity through logging and tracking siting proposals, and notifying impacted installations. AFRL - APTO modified MCAT for Air Force-specific and OSD clearinghouse needs. MCAT tracks the OSD process, allowing installation and Major Command (MAJCOM) assessments to be logged and viewed. This creates a central record of all proposed energy projects and a history of action taken with regard to each proposal.

Radar Toolbox is performance analysis software currently used to determine Probability of Detection (PD), Reinforcement Rate, False Track and other criteria. Under this effort, AFRL - APTO added a Wind Impact Tool, allowing users to simulate proposed wind farms of up to 100 turbines, estimating the effect the proposed wind farm would have on radar performance. This predictive analysis capability helps develop and defend potential mission impact decisions.

Experimental data collection involved military aircraft flying charted sorties through three Pennsylvania wind farms, using a Black Hawk helicopter and a C-130 cargo aircraft. Data from these flight trials was used to quantify the effects of existing wind farms on radar performance under varying flight and weather conditions, and assess the effectiveness of mitigation techniques.

Analysis showed that PD within the wind farm fell below the baseline by 6-25 percent. False Tracks originating from the wind farm were in the 20-25 per scan range for each set of flight trials. Using the software's plot eligibility filter, these were limited to less than two per scan. This shows that effective mitigation techniques are available that, if employed, are able to drastically limit False Tracks within a wind farm.


As renewable energy development continues to expand, the APTO project provides important information to enable the Air Force and the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) to meet mandated proposal reviews.

The successes of the Renewable Siting efforts will ensure that renewable development, both DoD and commercial, will be implemented in an expedient manner while reducing operational impacts caused by renewable sources on DoD operations.

Additional developments and enhancements for the tools developed under this effort are envisioned, which would increase capability and further streamline the review process.

Technical Inquiries

Air Force Research Laboratory
Materials and Manufacturing Directorate
Corporate Communications Office

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