View Full Version : Solar PV farms and airfields

2nd Apr 2013, 09:17

Have been approached by someone looking to build a significant sized PV solar farm- ie 40 acres plus - near us.

The CAA document is over two years old.

Has anyone any knowledge of what should be of concern?

I know there are some in Stuttgart and in the USA.

Have thought of glare/glint. Some pilots can use anti-glare shields, but suspect a bit much in an open cockpit environment or a weightshift microlight. Suspect it is also a bit different in a known traffic environment compared to a unlicensed field.

I think the CAA recommend we do not use polarised sun glasses because they remove the glint/glare and so hamper vision - the sparkle from an aircraft being useful to help detection?

Have also thought about obstructions - nice metal frames to puncture aircraft with engine failures! - but there could be a clearway designed into the scheme, I suppose.

Any other thoughts/experiences/knowledge please?

2nd Apr 2013, 11:13
There are a significant number of these of varying sizes springing up here in Cornwall. Initially, I was concerned about the glare/glint issue but when you think about it, they are designed to absorb light, not reflect it and in practice they present as a matt black surface. We've quite a number of polytunnels covering fields at the moment, these are much brighter although of course they are also trying to absorb radiation. Neither structure would be good news during a forced landing, but then again Cornish fields are generally very small and undulating, with dry stone walls all around them (euphemistically referred to as 'Cornish Hedges').

You say the proposed development is 'near' you, then you refer to a Clearway, suggesting it's actually within the runway safeguarding area. If that is the case, then look up the safeguarding criteria for your runway(s) in CAP 168 and apply them, even if the aerodrome is unlicensed. If it's outside and there are no significant upstanding obstructions associated, such as poles for the cabling, then you have no issues.

Personally, I'd far rather have a field of solar panels than a windfarm. We've some enormous new windfarms going up all over Cornwall, a much more significant hazard in my opinion. We get notified of all of these proposed within our ATZ and look at each one carefully. There are unresolved issues with these; apart from the physical obstruction, there is the question of turbulence downwind, none experienced so far.

WRT polarising sunglasses, I tried these a few years ago for flying and my experience was that they are unsuitable. Firstly, they show up all the stresses in plastic windscreens which is very distracting. Secondly, they render any kind of LCD display invisible at some angles, in an unpredictable way. I have to carry a 'second' pair of spectacles and have finally settled on varifocal lenses with photochromic properties that just darken enough but enable mapreading without strain - expensive but very good indeed. I can go from map to instruments to outside instantly, just by moving my eyes up and down.

The Odd One

2nd Apr 2013, 16:48
Dear OO,

Thanks for that.

If you want experience with windfarms, come and visit please.

We have 160 turbines at 150m high each starting just over 3km from the airfield!

And, yes, I suspect we notice turbulence. (but of course we are not scientists so I cannot say absolutely!)

There are currently about 70 applications (some for more than one turbine) in and around a five mile radius of the town!!