Tumbling Turbine Terror Continues: Another One Bites the Dust – this time it’s Ireland’s Turn

Wind-turbine-Screggagh-460x333

Fintona fan-fall-out.

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No sooner had the ink dried, so to speak, on our post earlier this week about collapsing turbines and flying blades (aka “component liberation”) than yet another tale of tumbling turbine terror and blades bidding for airborne freedom erupted from the (otherwise) pleasant fields of the Emerald Isle.

If we were a tad cynical, we would go so far to suggest the possibility of some kind of pattern, along the lines proffered by Mr Bond’s nemesis, Goldfinger: “Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times it’s enemy action”.

goldfinger

You say this has happened how many times, Mr Bond?

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While the wind industry’s spin-masters are keen to downplay the latest collapse in Ulster as an “extremely rare incident” (see below), it adds to a growing list of random turbine collapses that go well beyond a few ‘unlucky’ aberrations: turbines have been crashing back to earth in frightening numbers – from Brazilto KansasPennsylvaniaGermany and ScotlandDevon and everywhere in between.

This time around it’s the green fields of County Tyrone, Ulster that mark the final ‘resting’ place for another gravity challenged monster.

Here’s a few wrap ups on just the latest unscheduled decommissioning of a giant fan, that saw chunks of blades – ‘liberated’ from the collapsing turbine – flying over distances in the hundreds of metres. First up a video from the BBC:

Wind turbine collapses in Northern Ireland
The Telegraph
Emily Godsen
4 January 2015

Investigation after 328-foot turbine buckles at wind farm in County Tyrone despite only light winds

turbine-2_3153749b

A 328-foot tall wind turbine worth more than £2 million has buckled and collapsed on a mountainside in Northern Ireland.

Unconfirmed reports suggested the blades of the turbine had spun out of control – despite only light wind speeds – before the structure came crashing to the ground on Friday.

Locals claimed the sound of the turbine hitting the mountain could be heard up to seven miles away from the Screggagh wind farm, near Fintona in County Tyrone.

Some people compared it to an explosion while others claimed to have heard the sound of metal grinding throughout the day.

No-one was injured in the incident, which left debris scattered across the wind farm site.

The turbine was one of eight at the site, which opened in 2011 at a total cost of £26 million, implying a project cost of more than £3 million per turbine.

The actual turbine equipment itself cost just over £2m, Screggagh wind farm’s owners said. Each has a nominal power-generating capacity of 2.5 megawatts.

Each turbine’s tower is almost 200 feet tall, with the rotor blades spanning a diameter of more than 260 feet, giving a total height from base to tip of 328 feet, Screggagh wind farm’s owners said.

The remaining seven turbines have been shut down while manufacturers investigate what went wrong. Wind speeds were “medium” or 10 to 12 metres per second, they added.

Doreen Walker, director of Screggagh Windfarm Ltd, said: “There were fortunately no injuries and no personnel on site at the time.”

She said: “We are currently investigating the circumstances that led to the collapse of the turbine at Screggagh wind farm.

“We are however satisfied that the site’s precautionary health and safety alert processes worked well with local emergency services in attendance within minutes of the incident taking place.”

She said officials were “working closely” with Nordex UK, the supplier of the wind farm turbines, to ensure the site is safe.

“A further statement will be made once the investigation has been completed and the reasons for the failure confirmed,” she added.

German manufacturer Nordex is currently delivering a new, even bigger turbine design for other sites in the UK.

The accident is not the first safety incident involving Nordex turbines.

In 2012 the company was fined £26,000 after admitting health and safety failings at a site in Stirlingshire where a 19-year-old worker fell 100ft down a turbine to his death.

The company had previously been told to upgrade a lift system instead of ladders, but the court found there was no link between the safety breaches and the teenager’s death.

Defence lawyers in the case said that Nordex UK had been “practically insolvent” in the preceding years.

And in September 2013 an eight-year-old Nordex turbine in a German wind farm reportedly caught fire.

A spokesman for Nordex was unavailable for comment on the Northern Ireland case.

Previous incidents of wind turbines collapsing in the UK include one that fell during a gale in Devon in 2013, which was later blamed on sabotage after it emerged bolts were missing from its base.

Chris Streatfeild, director of health and safety for wind industry body RenewableUK, said: “A thorough investigation is already underway into what happened in this extremely rare incident. The wind industry takes health and safety issues very seriously, and the lessons learned from this will be implemented as swiftly as possible.

“No member of the public has ever been injured by wind turbine operating in the UK. As the trade body representing the wind industry.”
The Telegraph

A sterling effort there by RenewableUK’s spin-master, Chris Streatfeild as he tries to label the happenings in Ulster as an “extremely rare incident”.

unicorn

An “extremely rare incident” …

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While sightings of unicorns fit the “extremely rare incident” tag – turbine collapses and blade throw events (see our posts here and here and here and here) are becoming so common as to warrant a separate category on STT’s homepage – at least that way we will be able to keep up with them (see the links above).

Here are a couple more pieces on the fan-fall-out at Fintona.

Wind turbine collapses near Fintona
Ulster Herald
3 January 2015

A large wind turbine is reported to have collapsed between Fintona and Fivemiletown on Friday night.

wind turbine Screggah-wind-turbine-Padraig-McNulty-1-460x345

(Credit: Padraig McDermott)

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The turbine is understood to the part of the Screggagh wind farm in the Fivemiletown mountain range in Co Tyrone.

wind turbine Screggah-wind-turbine-Padraig-McNulty-2-460x345

(Credit: Padraig McDermott)

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Local people living close by reported hearing the turbine produce increasingly loud noise throughout Friday, culminating in a huge bang heard right across the area.

wind turbine Screggah-wind-turbine-Padraig-McNulty-3-460x345

(Credit: Padraig McDermott)

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One local person described the noise as ‘frightening at the end’, while another man compared the sound to a bomb exploding.

wind turbine Screggah-wind-turbine-Padraig-McNulty-5-460x345

(Credit: Padraig McDermott)

wind turbine Screggah-wind-turbine-Padraig-McNulty-6-460x345

(Credit: Padraig McDermott)

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The wrecked remains of the turbine was visible on Saturday morning, with debris was spread across a wide area.
Ulster Herald

And another one.

Massive wind turbine collapses in Co Tyrone: One local said it sounded like bomb exploding
Belfast Telegraph
3 January 2015

turbine fintona 4jpg

A massive wind turbine has collapsed in Co Tyrone.

The large turbine came apart between Fintona and Fivemiletown on Friday night, according to the Ulster Herald.

It’s understood to the part of the Screggagh wind farm in the Fivemiletown mountain range.

A number of pictures have now circulated online, showing the huge turbine collapsed and destroyed.

Locals reported hearing the turbine produce increasingly loud noise throughout Friday, culminating in a huge bang.

One told the Ulster Herald the sound could be compared to a bomb exploding.
Belfast Telegraph

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Comments

  1. Al Isselhard says:

    What good news this is.

  2. Noel Dean says:

    Great response Jim a very good comment.

    The fact of the matter is that the engineers (or so called engineers) are incompetent. All of the effects can be identified by real time noise monitoring – as all sound is the result of vibration. It is well known that the towers wobble/vibrate whether they’re going or not. The months before the towers started operation at Waubra, you could hear the humming sound coming from the towers as they were subjected to high wind speeds, I suspect from vibrating blades. The humming sound impacted on our home. I was informed that there were concerns of bearing failure because this was happening when the turbines were not operational.

    Sound/vibration measurement in real time is used by competent engineers to monitor the operation of equipment or processes. I commissioned testing for vibration of a tower at Waubra. The results showed a vibration on the tower of 110 hz, on the bolt 140 hz and the concrete ring around 30 to 40 hz. However, the full story is in the amplitude/vibration results especially on the bolts. It is very severe as this change is noted in the massive concrete block. After the head changes direction and the brakes have been applied, this results in a big bang, This bang happened almost constantly when I was there. The amplitude of vibration on the tower is what I consider as the failure of these towers because the difference in the reading on one location of the tower to another is very substantial. This indicates to me that the tower is flexing as well as vibrating in its natural frequency. The tower’s vibration pulsated, so I am not surprised that the towers are collapsing. In my opinion this flexing is the cause of these failures.

    What is strange however, is that Acciona did not even ask for the vibration report on the tower.

    I also had testing at our home which included amplitude of vibration testing done on our pillows which were found to be far in excess of any other amplitude/vibration recorded involving the house, walls and windows. This amplitude/vibration exceeded the maximum allowable by British standards by 50 % and was three times the preferred level. I paid about $5,000 for this testing to support my argument that the pillow vibrated and not the rest of the house. For more accurate assessments, new equipment would needed to be purchased costing many $1000s. This testing confirmed to me that low frequency amplitude of sound pressure was behind the problem causing our ill health. I also believe that this was caused by the operation of the Waubra wind turbines. As yet Acciona, our Planning Department or the Local Council have not provided any factual evidence for me to conclude otherwise.

    Noel Dean

  3. jim Hutson says:

    The problem is not going to go away and will only increase with the age of the Turbines. In the Wind Industry’s haste to ” get them up before they wake up ” they have moved in advance of experience. The stresses imposed on the towers are complex and enormous. If one watches the wind sock at an Aerodrome you will notice the wind varies anything up to 30 degrees. if you listen to air traffic controllers you will hear them call wind direction and strength, gusting to such and such. If you watch the wind lanes on lakes you will notice the gusts sometimes anything up the 30 to 40 metres wide. Now take the diameter of your local wind turbine with a diameter of 100 metres. With the wind gusting across one blade, this creates an enormous,twisting load on the main hub which in turn is transmitted into the tower.
    Also the friction layer dictates that the wind velocity will no be the same from the surface up to the top of the blade tip, also generating different loading. So it is with the wind backing and veering also transmits a torsional loading, and add to all this the straight rearward loading of all the blades as the wind picks up to maximum strength before they are shut down. Generally speaking a technological nightmare. Sorry to use the word
    ” Technology ” as at the time, approximately 200 years ago when wind energy was shown the door the word didn’t exist.
    So the poor old designer has to arrive at a tower design that will be able to absorb the flex,the twisting moments, the occasional gyroscopic moments, all with enormous loadings of the blades and with an enormous weight of the generator sitting on top of the tower creating a pendulum effect.
    But don’t despair, he will use computer modelling as the long term experience, related to structural fatigue, tapering cylindrical Towers is not there, and we all know how accurate computer modelling is.
    So sit back and watch the show and wonder how our hard earned taxpayers dollars have been thrown away by our Politicians.
    Just another day in the nonsense of wind turbines.

    • It’s interesting to see that the tower of latest fallen giant fan appears to have been constructed from glass reinforced plastic. Most of the tower failures we get to see involve steel structures but I understand some manufacturers also offer reinforced concrete towers. I wonder if concrete towers are common and whether they also have a high failure rate, as the steel towers appear to have?
      On the subject of computer modelling. Using computers to model engineering problems can only be accurate if every aspect of the system being modelled is fully understood. For that very same reason we find that the horrendously expensive models developed to model climate fail abysmally – note the useless model output (blue spaghetti) in this example.

    • Martin Hayles, Curramulka says:

      Thank you Jim,

      A great post for those of us who may be a little challenged from an engineering perspective.

      It is the very reason that the likes of the infamous middle-man of the more infamous Ceres Project, Terry Kallis, so desperately needs finance for his wind farm abortion on Yorke Peninsula, South Australia.

      “Little Ted” as he is affectionately known in these parts needs the coin so he can get in and get out and pocket the cash, leaving investors and the naive, ignorant, greedy and integrity deficient turbine hosts “holding the baby”.

      Oh,oh,oh and what a baby it will be. Law suits to deal with from the neighbors due to their wilful ignorance which as of more recent times will not be an excuse in the eyes of the law.
      You will not be able to claim ignorance as an excuse as the information is there for all to see.

      Damage to some peoples’ health is known.

      Inability for water-bombers to fly within or close to a wind farm in a built-up, major crop growing area is well known an acknowledged by the companies that provide this service and the government and the Country Fire Service.

      Whoops, you’re done on that one.

      Held to account for deconstruction of wind turbines when the inevitable happens and the wind companies fold, leaving the parasite farmer obligated to pull them down.

      Make no mistake turbine host, you will be held to account and when you turn around looking for “Little Ted”, pleading for the answer to your problem, he will be long gone. Bet your left one, this will be the case.

      Happy daze greedy ones.

  4. I hope they all fall over.

  5. Green Leprechaun Dream says:

    The Luck of the Irish!

  6. ‘nocebo effect’ bites the dust…

    ..and another ones gone and another ones gone..

    Industrial wind energy facility noise is at its worst during components breaking down, falling apart or falling off. It’s horrific!

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