Wind farms and the lessons from Pearl Harbour

Conspiracy theories abound always and those surrounding the post-analysis of when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in December 1941 were numerous. More than 2,300 American servicemen lives were lost in the attack and claims were laid that, the then American President, FD Roosevelt, had deliberately allowed the assault to happen, giving him a pretext to take America into WW2.
In all, there were ten official inquiries into the attack, the most recent of which was in 1995, all concluding there was no conspiracy at play.
But one element of the true theories of that time still resonates today and it has relevance in current times. As 183 Japanese planes closed in on Hawaii, they were detected by the island’s radar. The army lieutenant in charge of this new technology chose to ignore them as he believed the massive swarm of incoming aircraft was an expected smaller group of American bombers, in that they only appeared large because of a huge weather front in the area. The Japanese attackers had effectively used a cold front of cloud and rain to hide their numbers.
ocean wind farm
Radar has improved massively in the seventy years since Pearl Harbour, but it still has blind spots, and some adversaries may go to great lengths to exploit them. One relatively new vulnerability comes from large wind farms that are essential for future clean sustainable energy policy, most of which will be based at sea. It is an irony that the most lucrative areas for wind power coincide with some of our most dangerous threat frontiers – this applies to both the UK and US. With their large composite blade tips moving at close to the speed of sound, windfarms confuse radar both by the “shadow” they cast as well as the added confusion of doppler shift from the motion. As at Pearl Harbour this means any modern attack force could use them for cover.
There is, fortunately, a modern solution in the making that may well counter this threat. Advanced Material Development’s scientists are developing coatings to mitigate such radar interference. These coatings based on graphene materials will likely be cheap and light, and easy to apply both as a surface application but also as a core material which would have added strength and structural health monitoring qualities. With the new coating, wind farms will be able to absorb radar emissions rather than reflect them, and so dazzle onshore detection systems much less. This makes wind farms a much less promising place to hide for those who would do us harm.
There is a silver lining to how the weather affected Pearl Harbour. The aircraft carrier USS Enterprise which went on to fame and glory at Midway, and which become the most decorated American ship of WW2 – was racing towards Hawaii in early December. It was due to reach the island in time for the attack, and may have become a sitting duck, had the bad weather not slowed it down. It was a stroke of good fortune well beyond the account of any conspiracy theory.
John Lee CEO – Advanced Material Development Ltd
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