LOFAR and the installation of nearby windfarms and solar parks

Update: LOFAR and the installation of nearby windfarms and solar parks 

 

Over the course of 2020 and 2021 a windfarm will be constructed close to the LOFAR Core by a private company, Drentse Monden en Oostermoer (DMO). This windfarm will consist of 45 turbines set out in rows extending 3 - 7 km roughly eastward from the LOFAR Core area. It is the result of years of development. The main prerequisite was that any new installation needs to adhere to local electromagnetic (EMC, radio frequency) regulations, set per project, in order not to affect LOFAR’s astronomical capabilities.  The agreements made between the windfarm and ASTRON were set out in a “covenant to co-exist” in 2016. Many efforts were put into developing a modified wind turbine to meet the required EMC standards.  A first turbine that met the EMC requirements was build and tested at site in September 2019.

 

This test turbine is now operational. All other 44 turbines at this station will have the same specification. Preparations have started for their construction, scheduled for completion in 2021.

 

ASTRON is monitoring the build of this facility closely as well as enforcing the agreements made between the windfarm and ASTRON. A core condition is that the wind farm must go into full shutdown mode for an agreed amount of days to accommodate the most sensitive, core-dependent observations by LOFAR each period.

 

We are pleased to report that there is no excess RFI which exceeds that agreed in the covenant. That limit can be globally summarised in astronomical terms as leading to less than 10% increase above the thermal noise in an image from a 4-hour integration (LBA or HBA).  It is important to realise that LOFAR's long-baseline imaging will be largely unaffected by this wind farm. 

 

Adherence to the covenant agreements will continue to be actively monitored by ASTRON. The windfarm operators have the obligation to solve all issues.

 

General situation 

 The development of further windfarms and solar energy generation systems is almost inevitable in our region of the Netherlands. Local and provincial governments consult ASTRON when such developments are announced. ASTRON is committed to working with the authorities to ensure LOFAR is not impacted. 

 

Several solar parks are planned close to the LOFAR Core as well as a number of others which are close to LOFAR remote stations. All these solar parks are aware of their operating limits for EMC emissions in order to prevent any effect on LOFAR. 

 

With our ongoing efforts, and close cooperation with the authorities and developers, we are confident that LOFAR will continue as the world's premier low frequency telescope for many years to come. Some key science projects for the 2020’s are described here.

 

We look forward to continuing to make discoveries in radio astronomy happen.

 

Read more about How LOFAR and wind turbines jointly found a way forward on the NWO-I website.

Design: Kuenst.    Development: Dripl.    © 2020 ASTRON