ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. - A study shows that 104 wind turbines on 22,000 acres of North Carolina farmland do not interfere with a crucial radar system located in Chesapeake.
But developer Avangrid Renewables should not expand the Amazon Wind Farm to 150 turbines as originally planned, the study said. The towers are part of Amazon’s goal to produce more renewable energy.
The Navy’s Relocatable Over-the-Horizon Radar, called ROTHR, located at Naval Support Activity Northwest Annex in southern Chesapeake, monitors more than 10 million square miles of airspace for the military and law enforcement agencies.
The equipment has the ability to track drug-trafficking aircraft and ships as far away as South America.
The nearest wind turbines are set just 12 miles away.
Before construction, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology was commissioned to run a model on how the spinning blades, which reach 500 feet in the air, might distort radar signals. The model showed 104 turbines would work, but no more.
The towers stand at least 1,500 feet from each other, scattered over the 22,000 acres.
Avangrid Renewables completed the wind farm in February 2017. After more than a year of operation, the latest report concludes that the original model was correct.
At least one longtime wind power critic is unconvinced.
The report could be justifying MIT’s model and the military’s agreement with Avangrid rather than protecting the ROTHR mission, said John Droz, a physicist based in Morehead City, N.C. MIT also did the recent study.
The turbines were expected to produce 208 megawatts, or enough to power 60,000 homes a year. Avangrid Renewables will not release the amount of power actually produced after more than a year of operation, said company spokesman Paul Copleman.