FAA Obstruction Lighting Standards for Wind Energy Plants

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California Energy Commission

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With heights of modern utility-scale wind turbines exceeding 200 ft (61 m), wind energy developers in recent years have had to submit lighting proposals for wind plants to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The current FAA guidelines for wind plant obstruction lighting have not been developed to a level where developers can know with some certainty what lighting scheme the FAA will approve for proposed construction. The California Wind Energy Collaborative (CWEC) initiated a study of FAA obstruction lighting for wind plants to determine the issues surrounding the subject. A literature survey and interviews on the subject were conducted. During the period of investigation,the CWEC was able to observe flight tests with the FAA of a wind farm configured for new lighting standards. Key elements of the proposed standards are synchronization of the flashing lights and maximum 0.5 mi. (0.8 km) spacing between lighted turbines. It is expected that the new standards will improve flight safety and streamline the FAA recommendation and permitting processes for wind plant developments.