Connect with us


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.”



Is Wood Burning Sustainable For Your Home?



sustainable wood burning ideas

Wood is a classic heat source, whether we think about people gathered around a campfire or wood stoves in old cabins, but is it a sustainable source of heat in modern society? The answer is an ambivalent one. In certain settings, wood heat is an ideal solution, but for the majority of homes, it isn’t especially suitable. So what’s the tipping point?

Wood heat is ideal for small homes on large properties, for individuals who can gather their own wood, and who have modern wood burning ovens. A green approach to wood heat is one of biofuel on the smallest of scales.

Is Biofuel Green?

One of the reasons that wood heat is a source of so much divide in the eco-friendly community is that it’s a renewable resource and renewable has become synonymous with green. What wood heat isn’t, though, is clean or healthy. It lets off a significant amount of carbon and particulates, and trees certainly don’t grow as quickly as it’s consumed for heat.

Of course, wood is a much less harmful source of heat than coal, but for scientists interested in developing green energy sources, it makes more sense to focus on solar and wind power. Why, then, would they invest in improved wood burning technology?

Homegrown Technology

Solar and wind technology are good large-scale energy solutions, but when it comes to small-space heating, wood has its own advantages. First, wood heat is in keeping with the DIY spirit of homesteaders and tiny house enthusiasts. These individuals are more likely to be driven to gather their own wood and live in small spaces that can be effectively heated as such.

Wood heat is also very effective on an individual scale because it requires very little infrastructure. Modern wood stoves made of steel rather than cast iron are built to EPA specifications, and the only additional necessary tools include a quality axe, somewhere to store the wood, and an appropriate covering to keep it dry. And all the wood can come from your own land.

Wood heat is also ideal for people living off the grid or in cold areas prone to frequent power outages, as it’s constantly reliable. Even if the power goes out, you know that you’ll be able to turn up the heat. That’s important if you live somewhere like Maine where the winters can get exceedingly cold. People have even successfully heated a 40’x34’ home with a single stove.

Benefits Of Biomass

The ultimate question regarding wood heat is whether any energy source that’s dangerous on the large scale is acceptable on a smaller one. For now, the best answer is that with a growing population and limited progress towards “pure” green energy, wood should remain a viable option, specifically because it’s used on a limited scale. Biomass heat is even included in the UK’s Renewable Heat Initiative and minor modifications can make it even more sustainable.

Wood stoves, when embraced in conjunction with pellet stoves, geothermal heating, and masonry heaters, all more efficient forms of sustainable heat, should be part of a modern energy strategy. Ultimately, we’re headed in the direction of diversified energy – all of it cleaner – and wood has a place in the big picture, serving small homes and off-the-grid structures, while solar, wind, and other large-scale initiatives fuel our cities.

Continue Reading


7 Benefits You Should Consider Giving Your Energy Employees



As an energy startup, you’re always looking to offer the most competitive packages to entice top-tier talent. This can be tough, especially when trying to put something together that’s both affordable but also has perks that employees are after.

After all, this is an incredibly competitive field and one that’s constantly doing what it can to stay ahead. However, that’s why I’m bringing you a few helpful benefits that could be what bolsters you ahead of your competition. Check them out below:

Financial Advising

One benefit commonly overlooked by companies is offering your employees financial advising services, which could help them tremendously in planning for their long-term goals with your firm. This includes anything from budgeting and savings plans to recommendations for credit repair services and investments. Try to take a look at if your energy company could bring on an extra person or two specifically for this role, as it will pay off tremendously regarding retention and employee happiness.

Life Insurance

While often included in a lot of health benefits packages, offering your employees life insurance could be an excellent addition to your current perks. Although seldom used, life insurance is a small sign that shows you care about the life of their family beyond just office hours. Additionally, at such a low cost, this is a pretty simple aspect to add to your packages. Try contacting some brokers or insurance agents to see if you can find a policy that’s right for your firm.

Dedicated Time To Enjoy Their Hobbies

Although something seen more often in startups in Silicon Valley, having dedicated office time for employees to enjoy their passions is something that has shown great results. Whether it be learning the piano or taking on building a video game, having your team spend some time on the things they truly enjoy can translate to increased productivity. Why? Because giving them the ability to better themselves, they’ll in turn bring that to their work as well.

The Ability To Work Remotely

It’s no secret that a lot of employers despise the idea of letting their employees work remotely. However, it’s actually proven to hold some amazing benefits. According to Global Workplace Analytics, 95% of employers that allow their employees to telework reported an increased rate of retention, saving on both turnover and sick days. Depending on the needs of each individual role, this can be a strategy to implement either whenever your team wants or on assigned days. Either way, this is one perk almost everyone will love.

Health Insurance

Even though it’s mandated for companies with over 50 employees, offering health insurance regardless is arguably a benefit well received across the board. In fact, as noted in research compiled by KFF, 28.6% of employers with less than 50 people still offered health care. Why is that the case? Because it shows you care about their well-being, and know that a healthy employee is one that doesn’t have to worry about astronomical medical bills.

Unlimited Time Off

This is a perk that almost no employer offers but should be regarded as something to consider. According to The Washington Post, only 1-2% of companies offer unlimited vacation, which it’s easy to see why. A true “unlimited vacation” program could be a firm’s worse nightmare, with employees skipping out every other week to enjoy themselves. However, with the right model in place that rewards hard work with days off, your employees will absolutely adore this policy.

A Full Pantry

Finally, having a pantry full of food can be one perk that’s not only relatively inexpensive but also adds to the value of the workplace. As noted by USA Today, when surveying employees who had snacks versus those who didn’t, 67% of those who did reported they were “very happy” with their work life. You’d be surprised at how much of a difference this could make, especially when considering the price point. Consider adding a kitchen to your office if you haven’t already, and always keep the snacks and drinks everyone wants fully stocked. Doing so will increase morale tremendously.

Final Thoughts

Compiling a great package for your energy company is going to take some time in looking at what you can afford versus what’s the most you can offer. While it might mean cutting back in other areas, having a workforce that feels like you genuinely want to take care of them can take you far. And with so many different benefits to include in your energy company’s package, which one is your favorite? Comment with your answers below!

Continue Reading