CHAPTER 13. MARKING AND LIGHTING WIND TURBINE FARMS
This chapter provides guidelines for the marking and lighting of wind turbine farms. For the purposes of this advisory circular, wind turbine farms are defined as a wind turbine development that contains more than three (3) turbines of heights over 200 feet above ground level. The recommended marking and lighting of these structures is intended to provide day and night conspicuity and to assist pilots in identifying and avoiding these obstacles.
131. GENERAL STANDARDS
The development of wind turbine farms is a very dynamic process, which constantly changes based on the differing terrain they are built on. Each wind turbine farm is unique; therefore it is important to work closely with the sponsor to determine a lighting scheme that provides for the safety of air traffic. The following are guidelines that are recommended for wind turbine farms. Consider the proximity to airports and VFR routes, extreme terrain where heights may widely vary, and local flight activity when making the recommendation.
a. Not all wind turbine units within an installation or farm need to be lighted. Definition of the periphery of the installation is essential; however, lighting of interior wind turbines is of lesser importance unless they are taller than the peripheral units.
b. Obstruction lights within a group of wind turbines should have unlighted separations or gaps of no more than ½ statute mile if the integrity of the group appearance is to be maintained. This is especially critical if the arrangement of objects is essentially linear.
c. Any array of flashing or pulsed obstruction lighting should be synchronized or flash simultaneously.
d. Nighttime wind turbine obstruction lighting should consist of the preferred FAA L-864 aviation red-colored flashing lights.
e. White strobe fixtures (FAA L-865) may be used in lieu of the preferred L-864 red flashing lights, but must be used alone without any red lights, and must be positioned in the same manner as the red flashing lights.
f. The white paint most often found on wind turbine units is the most effective daytime early warning device. Other colors, such as light gray or blue, appear to be significantly less effective in providing daytime warning. Daytime lighting of wind turbine farms is not required, as long as the turbine structures are painted in a bright white color or light off-white color most often found on wind turbines.
132. WIND TURBINE CONFIGURATIONS –
Prior to recommending marking and lighting, determine the configuration and the terrain of the wind turbine farm. The following is a description of the most common configurations.
a. Linear – wind turbine farms in a line-like arrangement, often located along a ridge line, the face of a mountain or along borders of a mesa or field. The line may be ragged in shape or be periodically broke, and may vary in size from just a few turbines up to 20 miles long.
b. Cluster – turbine farms where the turbines are placed in circles like groups on top of a mesa, or within a large field. A cluster is typically characterized by having a pronounced perimeter, with various turbines placed inside the circle at various, erratic distances throughout the center of the circle.
c. Grid – turbine farms arranged in a geographical shape such as a square or a rectangle, where each turbine is set a consistent distance from each other in rows, giving the appearance that they are part of a square like pattern.
133. MARKING STANDARDS
The bright white or light off-white paint most often found on wind turbines has been shown to be most effective, and if used, no lights are required during the daytime. However, if darker paint is used, wind turbine marking should be supplemented with daytime lighting, as required.
134. LIGHTING STANDARDS
a. Flashing red (L864), or white (L-865) lights may be used to light wind turbines. Studies have shown that red lights are most effective, and should be the first consideration for lighting recommendations of wind turbines.
b. Obstruction lights should have unlighted separations or gaps of no more than ½ mile. Lights should flash simultaneously. Should the synchronization of the lighting system fail, a lighting outage report should be made in accordance with paragraph 23 of this advisory circular. Light fixtures should be placed as high as possible on the turbine nacelle, so as to be visible from 360 degrees.
c. Linear Turbine Configuration. Place a light on each turbine positioned at each end of the line or string of turbines. Lights should be no more than ½ statute mile, or 2640 feet from the last lit turbine. In the event the last segment is significantly short, push the lit turbines back towards the starting point to present a well balanced string of lights. High concentrations of lights should be avoided.
d. Cluster Turbine Configuration. Select a starting point among the outer perimeter of the cluster. This turbine should be lit, and a light should be placed on the next turbine so that no more than a ½ statute mile gap exists. Continue this pattern around the perimeter. If the distance across the cluster is greater than 1 mile, and/or the terrain varies by more than 100 feet, place one or more lit turbines at locations throughout the center of the cluster.
e. Grid Turbine Configuration. Select each of the defined corners of the layout to be lit, and then utilize the same concept of the cluster configuration as outlined in paragraph d.
f. Special Considerations. On occasion, one or two turbines may be located apart from the main grouping of turbines. If one or two turbines protrude from the general limits of the turbine farm, these turbines should be lit.