The ADLS technology is expected to eliminate the flashing lights on the turbines by more than 95%.
MidAmerican installed the ADLS system on more than 200 wind turbines at its Adair, Eclipse and Morning Light wind farms in Adair, Audubon, Cass and Guthrie counties.
When the ADLS antenna detects an aircraft in the designated airspace, the system activates red flashing lights mounted at the top of wind turbines to warn pilots. The warning lights remain off when the antenna detects no aircraft in the area.
“We expect that this system will dramatically reduce how much you’ll see flashing red lights at these three wind farms – likely a 95% drop or more,” Adam Jablonski, vice president of project development, said. “While the system keeps the lights off most of the time, it’s also designed to always keep wind farms safe for pilots by activating the lights when an aircraft is near.”
The Federal Aviation Administration requires wind farms to operate synchronized red flashing lights to warn pilots. Recently, the agency approved this technology as an option, and when approved on a case-by-case basis, it will keep wind turbine lights off unless the system detects an aircraft within three nautical miles of the wind farms. Commercial aircraft flying at a normal cruising altitude should not activate the lights.
If the ADLS experiences a malfunction, wind turbine warning lights will begin to flash regardless of whether there’s an aircraft in the area.
The system will also reduce energy consumption at the three wind farms and likely extend the operating life of the warning lights.
One-year pilot project
Once MidAmerican completes calibrating equipment and the system becomes operational later this fall, over the next year the company will evaluate its performance and feasibility for potential use elsewhere.
“This pilot project will improve the night sky for communities in this area,” Jablonski said. “It’s designed to balance people’s desire to keep wind farm lights off as much as possible with the need to keep the skies above them safe,” he added. “As a community partner, this is a technology that MidAmerican is really excited to roll out for testing.”
MidAmerican operates more than 3,400 wind turbines at 37 wind projects in 32 counties in Iowa, with over 7,300 MW of wind generating capacity. Since 2004, MidAmerican has invested $14 billion in Iowa wind projects, including new projects and repowering investments. In 2022, MidAmerican generated as much renewable energy as its Iowa customers used during the year, the first time it reached the 100% renewable energy milestone.
MidAmerican Energy, headquartered in Des Moines, Iowa, serves 813,000 electric customers in Iowa, Illinois and South Dakota, and 789,000 natural gas customers in Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska and South Dakota. Information about MidAmerican Energy is available at midamericanenergy.com and company social media channels.