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First Serco ‘wind farm radar’ achieves Full Operating Capability



The UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) has confirmed that the first of five new, or upgraded, Air Defence radars provided by Serco, which prevent wind farms interfering with the UK’s air defence capability, is now fully operational.

The Remote Radar Head (RRH) Trimingham in Norfolk gained Initial Operating Capability (IOC) in autumn 2011, with further flight trials and analysis required to fully demonstrate that the solution provides acceptable mitigation to the effects of the Sheringham Shoal wind farm in all climatic conditions experienced in the UK.  These demonstrations have now been successfully completed.

The radar has been provided and installed under a contract awarded to Serco in 2010, with further contracts being awarded to realise the same capability at four other UK locations where Air Defence radars are affected by wind farm developments, namely: RRH Brizlee Wood, Northumberland; RRH Staxton Wold, North Yorkshire; RRH Buchan, Eastern Scotland; and RRH Benbecula, Western Scotland. Each of these radars is now expected to progressively achieve Full Operating Capability.

In its capacity as prime contractor, Serco has been working with Lockheed Martin to optimise the necessary radar technology that mitigates the interference created by wind farm turbine blades; the lack of such technology had previously impeded the roll out of wind farms in line of sight of Air Defence radars.

Serco has also been responsible for the overall system performance, system installation, undertaking the safety case analysis, installing new ground to air radios and, in addition, providing ongoing consultancy to the energy companies in relation to their plans for future wind farm developments for a period until 2018.

A potential 4GW of renewable electricity created by on shore and off shore wind farms may be enabled, equivalent to providing up to 11% of the UK annual electricity need from sovereign sources.  The first wind farm to benefit from this is Sheringham Shoal, which generates 1.1TWh of renewable electricity, equivalent to power for 220,000 British homes.


Serco has been at the forefront of providing a solution to the challenges posed to Air Defence capability and radars by wind farms since the UK Government signalled its intention to commit to securing 15% of electricity needs from renewable sources by 2020 (from 1990 levels).  In doing so the company has worked closely with a number of government departments and the renewable energy industry to create and deliver on time a highly innovative mitigation solution.


Matt Wiles, Serco’s Managing Director for Defence, said: “This is a great example of Serco at its best: using its deep technical insight to bring forward a highly original and innovative solution to a problem being faced by Government.  We are all delighted by the declaration made by the Ministry of Defence that they are satisfied that the solution provides sufficient Operational Mitigation for Sheringham Shoal.  We have an exceptionally talented and experienced team who analysed the problem and identified that working with Lockheed Martin to come up with a compelling solution was the right approach.  I am immensely proud of their achievement and look forward to providing solutions for similar complex problems in the future.”


Maria McCaffery, Chief Executive of RenewableUK, a trade group heavily involved with this initiative, added: “We’re delighted that the TPS-77 air defence radar at Trimingham has been accepted by the Ministry of Defence. Its suitability for use at Sheringham Shoal is a significant milestone for the industry, which could result in the equipment being accepted in other projects. Serco has played a pivotal role in addressing the MOD’s air defence radar concerns. We’re proud of the contribution the wind industry has made and will continue to support this initiative in the future”.


Christopher Carpenter, MOD’s project director and senior engineer, who has been a central figure in the successful delivery of the project since its inception, commented: “The Full Operating Capability declaration for the MOD’s first TPS-77 radar at Trimingham, which is against the Sheringham Shoal wind farm development, represents a major milestone in the work to mitigate the effects of wind farms on military air defence operations. The MOD has worked in partnership with Serco, The Crown Estate and the Wind Industry to implement and subsequently optimise the radar for its mitigation capability for the Sheringham Shoal wind farm. The experience gained during this process builds on the Ministry Of Defence’s reputation globally as a leading exponent of Air Defence radar wind farm mitigation.  This experience will be invaluable when assessing, on a case-by-case basis, subsequent applications to use the TPS-77 radars for wind farm mitigation.”



New Zealand to Switch to Fully Renewable Energy by 2035



renewable energy policy
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Eviart /

New Zealand’s prime minister-elect Jacinda Ardern is already taking steps towards reducing the country’s carbon footprint. She signed a coalition deal with NZ First in October, aiming to generate 100% of the country’s energy from renewable sources by 2035.

New Zealand is already one of the greenest countries in the world, sourcing over 80% of its energy for its 4.7 million people from renewable resources like hydroelectric, geothermal and wind. The majority of its electricity comes from hydro-power, which generated 60% of the country’s energy in 2016. Last winter, renewable generation peaked at 93%.

Now, Ardern is taking on the challenge of eliminating New Zealand’s remaining use of fossil fuels. One of the biggest obstacles will be filling in the gap left by hydropower sources during dry conditions. When lake levels drop, the country relies on gas and coal to provide energy. Eliminating fossil fuels will require finding an alternative source to avoid spikes in energy costs during droughts.

Business NZ’s executive director John Carnegie told Bloomberg he believes Ardern needs to balance her goals with affordability, stating, “It’s completely appropriate to have a focus on reducing carbon emissions, but there needs to be an open and transparent public conversation about the policies and how they are delivered.”

The coalition deal outlined a few steps towards achieving this, including investing more in solar, which currently only provides 0.1% of the country’s energy. Ardern’s plans also include switching the electricity grid to renewable energy, investing more funds into rail transport, and switching all government vehicles to green fuel within a decade.

Zero net emissions by 2050

Beyond powering the country’s electricity grid with 100% green energy, Ardern also wants to reach zero net emissions by 2050. This ambitious goal is very much in line with her focus on climate change throughout the course of her campaign. Environmental issues were one of her top priorities from the start, which increased her appeal with young voters and helped her become one of the youngest world leaders at only 37.

Reaching zero net emissions would require overcoming challenging issues like eliminating fossil fuels in vehicles. Ardern hasn’t outlined a plan for reaching this goal, but has suggested creating an independent commission to aid in the transition to a lower carbon economy.

She also set a goal of doubling the number of trees the country plants per year to 100 million, a goal she says is “absolutely achievable” using land that is marginal for farming animals.

Greenpeace New Zealand climate and energy campaigner Amanda Larsson believes that phasing out fossil fuels should be a priority for the new prime minister. She says that in order to reach zero net emissions, Ardern “must prioritize closing down coal, putting a moratorium on new fossil fuel plants, building more wind infrastructure, and opening the playing field for household and community solar.”

A worldwide shift to renewable energy

Addressing climate change is becoming more of a priority around the world and many governments are assessing how they can reduce their reliance on fossil fuels and switch to environmentally-friendly energy sources. Sustainable energy is becoming an increasingly profitable industry, giving companies more of an incentive to invest.

Ardern isn’t alone in her climate concerns, as other prominent world leaders like Justin Trudeau and Emmanuel Macron have made renewable energy a focus of their campaigns. She isn’t the first to set ambitious goals, either. Sweden and Norway share New Zealand’s goal of net zero emissions by 2045 and 2030, respectively.

Scotland already sources more than half of its electricity from renewable sources and aims to fully transition by 2020, while France announced plans in September to stop fossil fuel production by 2040. This would make it the first country to do so, and the first to end the sale of gasoline and diesel vehicles.

Many parts of the world still rely heavily on coal, but if these countries are successful in phasing out fossil fuels and transitioning to renewable resources, it could serve as a turning point. As other world leaders see that switching to sustainable energy is possible – and profitable – it could be the start of a worldwide shift towards environmentally-friendly energy.


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5 Easy Things You Can Do to Make Your Home More Sustainable




sustainable homes
Shutterstock Licensed Photot - By Diyana Dimitrova

Increasing your home’s energy efficiency is one of the smartest moves you can make as a homeowner. It will lower your bills, increase the resale value of your property, and help minimize our planet’s fast-approaching climate crisis. While major home retrofits can seem daunting, there are plenty of quick and cost-effective ways to start reducing your carbon footprint today. Here are five easy projects to make your home more sustainable.

1. Weather stripping

If you’re looking to make your home more energy efficient, an energy audit is a highly recommended first step. This will reveal where your home is lacking in regards to sustainability suggests the best plan of attack.

Some form of weather stripping is nearly always advised because it is so easy and inexpensive yet can yield such transformative results. The audit will provide information about air leaks which you can couple with your own knowledge of your home’s ventilation needs to develop a strategic plan.

Make sure you choose the appropriate type of weather stripping for each location in your home. Areas that receive a lot of wear and tear, like popular doorways, are best served by slightly more expensive vinyl or metal options. Immobile cracks or infrequently opened windows can be treated with inexpensive foams or caulking. Depending on the age and quality of your home, the resulting energy savings can be as much as 20 percent.

2. Programmable thermostats

Programmable thermostats

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Olivier Le Moal

Programmable thermostats have tremendous potential to save money and minimize unnecessary energy usage. About 45 percent of a home’s energy is earmarked for heating and cooling needs with a large fraction of that wasted on unoccupied spaces. Programmable thermostats can automatically lower the heat overnight or shut off the air conditioning when you go to work.

Every degree Fahrenheit you lower the thermostat equates to 1 percent less energy use, which amounts to considerable savings over the course of a year. When used correctly, programmable thermostats reduce heating and cooling bills by 10 to 30 percent. Of course, the same result can be achieved by manually adjusting your thermostats to coincide with your activities, just make sure you remember to do it!

3. Low-flow water hardware

With the current focus on carbon emissions and climate change, we typically equate environmental stability to lower energy use, but fresh water shortage is an equal threat. Installing low-flow hardware for toilets and showers, particularly in drought prone areas, is an inexpensive and easy way to cut water consumption by 50 percent and save as much as $145 per year.

Older toilets use up to 6 gallons of water per flush, the equivalent of an astounding 20.1 gallons per person each day. This makes them the biggest consumer of indoor water. New low-flow toilets are standardized at 1.6 gallons per flush and can save more than 20,000 gallons a year in a 4-member household.

Similarly, low-flow shower heads can decrease water consumption by 40 percent or more while also lowering water heating bills and reducing CO2 emissions. Unlike early versions, new low-flow models are equipped with excellent pressure technology so your shower will be no less satisfying.

4. Energy efficient light bulbs

An average household dedicates about 5 percent of its energy use to lighting, but this value is dropping thanks to new lighting technology. Incandescent bulbs are quickly becoming a thing of the past. These inefficient light sources give off 90 percent of their energy as heat which is not only impractical from a lighting standpoint, but also raises energy bills even further during hot weather.

New LED and compact fluorescent options are far more efficient and longer lasting. Though the upfront costs are higher, the long term environmental and financial benefits are well worth it. Energy efficient light bulbs use as much as 80 percent less energy than traditional incandescent and last 3 to 25 times longer producing savings of about $6 per year per bulb.

5. Installing solar panels

Adding solar panels may not be the easiest, or least expensive, sustainability upgrade for your home, but it will certainly have the greatest impact on both your energy bills and your environmental footprint. Installing solar panels can run about $15,000 – $20,000 upfront, though a number of government incentives are bringing these numbers down. Alternatively, panels can also be leased for a much lower initial investment.

Once operational, a solar system saves about $600 per year over the course of its 25 to 30-year lifespan, and this figure will grow as energy prices rise. Solar installations require little to no maintenance and increase the value of your home.

From an environmental standpoint, the average five-kilowatt residential system can reduce household CO2 emissions by 15,000 pounds every year. Using your solar system to power an electric vehicle is the ultimate sustainable solution serving to reduce total CO2 emissions by as much as 70%!

These days, being environmentally responsible is the hallmark of a good global citizen and it need not require major sacrifices in regards to your lifestyle or your wallet. In fact, increasing your home’s sustainability is apt to make your residence more livable and save you money in the long run. The five projects listed here are just a few of the easy ways to reduce both your environmental footprint and your energy bills. So, give one or more of them a try; with a small budget and a little know-how, there is no reason you can’t start today.

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