The number of cases involving collapsing turbines and flying blades (aka “component liberation”) has become so common that, 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”.
Turbines have been crashing back to earth in frightening numbers – from Brazil – to Kansas – Pennsylvania – Germany and Scotland – Devon and everywhere in between: Ireland has been ‘luckier’ than most (see our posts here and here).
Then there’s the wild habit of these little ‘eco-friendlies’ unshackling their 10 tonne blades, and chucking them for miles in all directions – as seen in the video below – and see our posts here and here and here and here.
In one serious scientific study into the distances blades are likely to travel during “component liberation” – covering over 37 “component liberation” events – blade throw distances of up to 1,600 m were recorded: that study was completed in 2007 – there have been many more bids for blade “freedom” since then (up to 2014 there have been 309 ‘incidents’, as detailed here).
In Australia, for “planning” purposes, the various states have a variety of “set-back” distances between wind turbines and residential homes – said (laughably) to avoid noise impacts: in South Australia it’s 1km.
For a few years the Victorians set it at 2km – but, before 2007 there was no set-back required and plenty of homes ended up with turbines within 600m. However, there is no such limit placed on the distance between roads and turbines.
The eco-fascist nutjobs – that took charge in Victoria – slashed set-back distances to 1km – further demonstrating their naked stupidity and rancid hatred of country people. Under Victoria’s ‘rules’, residential homes are now well within the throw zone; with no set-back from roads at all, road-users are sitting ducks.
With whole (50m) blades travelling up to 200m, bigger heavier chunks likely to travel well over 300m and the smaller pieces (referred to in the study linked above as “10% blade fragments”) flying out to distances of up to 1,600m (for a 10% blade fragment – think 5m long blade chunks weighing a tonne or so) – the current setback rule in South Australia – and what the eco-fascists just gave Victoria – places wind farm neighbours well and truly within the “throw zone”.
And with those numbers in mind, think about whole blades – or substantial chunks of them – being flung around with gay abandon the next time you drive past the turbines at Cullerin and Macarthur, some of which are less than 300m from the road you’re on. For stats on blade throws, turbine collapses and fatalities, see: Wind Turbine Blade Throw: Senate Inquiry Gives Chance to Hammer Insanely Dangerous Setback Rules
It’s not just component liberation events that trouble these things (and the lives and limbs of those forced to live within the throw zone), gravity (or some other force?) seems to be giving them no end of vexation.
Here’s three tales from the wind industry’s bible, Windpower Monthly about 100 tonne tumbles, proving that what goes up, must come down – and not without fatal results.
Cracked shaft possible cause of Repower turbine collapse
14 December 2015
FRANCE: Preliminary results of an investigation into a turbine collapse in France indicate a fault in the machine’s shaft caused the rotor to fall to the ground.
On 10 November, the rotor sheared off a Repower MD77-1500kW turbine at Menil-la-Horgne, in the Meuse department of north-east France.
According to investigations so far, the cause of the accident is presumed to be “a slag inclusion in the shaft”, explained a spokesperson at Wpd Windmanager, which took over operational management of the plant from French project operator Theolia in early November.
In other words, it appears a fault in the main shaft connecting the rotor with the gearbox cracked open as the shaft became fatigued.
Senvion, which was known as Repower when the turbines were installed, said that it could not comment until the full investigation to identify the exact cause was completed.
The project, comprising seven Repower MD77 turbines, was commissioned in 2007. It was developed by Wpd and built by ABOWind, and is now owned by Eoliennes Suroit SNC, based in Colmar, north-east France.
The remaining six turbines are still out of service, waiting for permission from the French authorities to restart them, Wpd Windmanager said.
Once is happenstance ….
Siemens investigates turbine collapse
2 December 2015
DENMARK: The nacelle and rotor blades of a 13-year-old 2.3MW Bonus turbine at the Samso offshore project in Denmark broke from the tower and fell into the sea on 28 November.
Siemens, which took over Bonus in 2004 and is responsible for the maintenance of the turbines at the 23MW project, commissioned in 2002-03, is investigating the cause of the unit’s sudden collapse.
“As a precautionary measure, the customer initially decided to take the remaining nine turbines out of operation until physical inspections could be conducted,” said a Siemens spokesperson.
“These units have now been inspected and found to be acceptable for normal operations,” he added.
Soren Hermansen, a shareholder in the project, which is partly owned by private investors, told the Copenhagen Post there had been no warning signs of the machine’s failure.
“Just ten minutes before the turbine snapped, it was operating normally,” he said.
“Operating normally”, hey? Then, that event surely must be coincidence … but …
Ming Yang turbine collapse kills one, injures three
13 September 2012
CHINA: A Ming Yang 1.5MW wind turbine collapsed in the course of commissioning, killing one and injuring three, on September 5 in north-west China’s Xinjiang province.
The 66/1500 turbine toppled down in a Huaneng wind farm in Tuokexun county, eastern Xinjiang.
Ming Yang said that according to preliminary analysis, the tower fell because the foundation bolts were not properly fastened in the course of turbine installation. This was exacerbated by the Class I winds at the location.
The company said management staff and technicians are studying anti-accident measures to avoid similar accidents in the future.
The Huaneng Tuokexun wind farm completed turbine installation in April this year. In addition, Ming Yang signed an agreement with a Xinjiang local wind power developer in 2010, to construct a 50MW wind farm in Dabancheng, using 3MW super-compact drive (SCD) turbines.
So far, all the 3MW turbines have been installed and expected to be connected to the grid at the end of the year.