Danish renewables giant Ørsted just brought a 200-megawatt (MW) wind farm online in Kansas, and it’s the first in the state to feature light-mitigating technology.
The 200-megawatt (MW) Sunflower Wind is in Marion County, Kansas, northeast of Wichita, and it’s going to generate enough renewable energy to power more than 70,000 homes annually.
Governor Laura Kelly (D-KS) said:
Sunflower Wind not only adds to the historic string of mega business investments in Kansas by creating new jobs and driving more private investment into our State, but it will be the first project operating in Kansas to install light mitigating technology that will help preserve our night skies .
Sunflower Wind is the first in the state to feature an Aircraft Detection Lighting System (ADLS) that uses radar to scan for aircraft.When ADLS is installed on a wind farm, the nighttime lights on the turbines blink only when aircraft are detected, thus reducing light pollution for residents who live close enough to be able to see them.
Approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is required to install ADLS, and the FAA reviews every turbine individually.The FAA requires that the ADLS activate and flash if an aircraft is at or below 1,000 feet above the tallest wind turbine and is approaching a three-nautical mile (3.45-mile) perimeter around the wind farm.
In Kansas, ADLS could really make an impact: In 2022, wind energy accounted for 47% of Kansas’s electricity net generation, which was the third-highest share of wind power for any state after Iowa and South Dakota.So that’s a lot of blinking red lights, and some residents aren’t digging that so much.
NPR reports , for example, that “Bonnie Rasmussen of Frankfort, Kansas, wrote to senators that she fulfilled a dream a decade ago by building a house ‘away from the noise and lights of the big city’”:
There I enjoyed the morning sunrises and evening sunsets and the moon and stars of the night.
Now I am almost surrounded by blinking red lights from evening until way past sunrise.I have only one window which does not look out upon a sea of red blinking lights.
ADLS is going to make that situation a lot better, which could, in turn, make more people in Kansas happier to live near wind farms.
Check out Ørsted’s video below that looks at the benefits wind farms can bring to rural areas:
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