Wind Turbine Terror: Spanish Home Hit by Flying Blade – Just 1 of 3,800 Blade ‘Fails’ Every Year

turbine blade germany

Bid for blade ‘freedom’ in Germany ….

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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”.

turbinedutchbladeaccident

Dutch dash for liberty …

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Turbines have been crashing back to earth in frightening numbers – from Brazilto KansasPennsylvaniaGermany and ScotlandDevon and everywhere in between: Ireland has been ‘luckier’ than most (see our posts here and here) and their luck is being enjoyed in Sweden too (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 and here.

turbine blade donegal

Irish eco-spear planted (more) firmly in peaty soil …

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Fire (spontaneous combustion), wind and gravity have taken their toll on these things all over the Globe – with fatal results, snuffing out over 160 lives, so far; a fair bit sooner than the victims expected. For a breakdown on wind power fatalities: 290 Tonne Vestas Wind Turbines Dropping Like Giant Wounded Flies

Blade failure is the most common ‘accident’ on the wind industry’s list of death and destruction. For a taste of the chaos, let’s head to Spain.

House hit by debris following blade failure
Windpower Monthly
Michael McGovern
5 January 2016

BladeFailure_Spain

SPAIN: A house has been hit by pieces of a turbine blade that fell from a 300kW turbine in Spain following high winds, several local press are reporting.

Two 15-metre blades from the turbine disintegrated in the early morning of 3 January, striking an occupied house 280-metres away.

The blade failure occurred on one of 61 Desa A300 turbines at the 18.3MW Corme wind plant in the Ponteceso district of Spain’s northernmost province of Coruna.

The project is owned and operated by EDP Renovavais and has been online since 2000. Desa once belonged to Spanish turbine pioneer Abengoa and is now partly owned by EDP.

The owner of the house affected reported to local media that the turbine had been making “unbearable noises” for a few days before the incident, following high winds in the area.

On the eve of national holidays in Spain, EDP failed to comment to Windpower Monthly on the incident. But the company had issued a provisional statement to the local press saying it was “too early” to pinpoint the causes.

Its statement firmly denied that an explosion had occurred in the turbine, as reported by some local witnesses.

It also confirmed the turbine was operating at the time of the incident, as wind speeds at the time were within safe operational limits, at 90km/h (25m/s). Turbines had been halted in recent weeks due to higher winds, the statement said.
Windpower Monthly

turbine001 kerry

Not feeling like its usual self, for some reason …

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Now, if the 50m plus blades of giant industrial turbines were engaging in just the odd burst for component liberation neighbours’ anxiety levels might settle around the mild-edginess level.

However, those bunking down within less than 2km of these things can be forgiven for feeling a state of constant panic in the knowledge that close to 4,000 blades are busting free from their moorings every year.

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.

So drivers, too, might be excused for being more than just a little nervous  – 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) – and hundreds of turbines planted within 100m of roads at places like Cullerin, Waterloo and Macarthur.

And, from the reported numbers of blade ‘failures’, for very good reason.

Annual blade failures estimated at around 3,800
Windpower Monthly
Shaun Campbell
14 May 2015

WORLDWIDE: Wind turbine rotor blades are failing at a rate of around 3,800 a year, 0.54% of the 700,000 or so blades that are in operation worldwide.

The figures, from research carried out by renewable energy undewriter GCube, were delivered by Andrew Bellamy, former head of Areva’s 8MW blade programme, in his opening address to Windpower Monthly’s blade manufacturing and composites conference in London on 12 May.

Bellamy, co-founder of renewables advisory firm Aarufield, pointed out that blade failures are the primary cause of insurance claims in the US onshore market. They account for over 40% of claims, ahead of gearboxes (35%) and generators (10%).

The wind industry also faces a struggle to secure the carbon fibre materials it needs for lighter and stronger blade designs, warned Bellamy.

“There’s growing competition for these materials from the automotive and aerospace industries,” he said. “And they are willing, and able, to pay more than we are.”

Recent examples of blade failures include a blade from a Vestas V90 3MW turbine that snapped on a wind farm in the north of Denmark last year. At the time, Vestas said the winds were not particularly high.

In another case last year, GE was forced to replace 33 blade on its turbines at a Michigan wind farm after a blade broke on the project.

GE put the failure down to a “spar cap anomaly”. It was the second such incident involving the 1.6-100 model, and was followed by a third at the 94MW Orangeville wind farm in New York State, also in November.

Possibly the biggest blade issue was faced by Siemens in 2013 when it was forced to curtail around 700 turbines worldwide. This was caused by a bonding failure in its B53 blade.
Windpower Monthly

bladethrow-shredding-ocotillo

Siemens spears one into the desert, Ocotillo, California.

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Good to know that when these whirling Danish Dervishes were throwing their 10 tonne spears to all points of the compass when “wind speeds at the time were within safe operational limits”; and when “the winds were not particularly high”….

One can only wonder at the chaos and carnage when the wind really picks up. Although this video of one of Vesta’s ‘eco-friendlies’ letting loose gives a bit of a clue.

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About stopthesethings

We are a group of citizens concerned about the rapid spread of industrial wind power generation installations across Australia.

Comments

  1. 4TimesAYear says:

    Reblogged this on 4timesayear's Blog.

  2. Crispin Trist says:

    The thing that many people may forget is that as these things get older, they start to wear out. Blades can become damaged with age and can even crack and split at the tips from years of turbulence, bird strikes or even lightning as was the case with this particular turbine! The Cape Bridgewater wind farm seems to get noisier with each passing year.

    We complained to the site owner/operator about the noise below. It went on for months. You could hear this noise in every part of the house.

    Here is the link to my recording of the noise. Please note that the image is of another turbine at the same site that is located only 50m or so from the public road at the Blow Holes car park, Cape Bridgewater. Anyone can stand under this turbine and take this picture! The reason that the imagine has been shown as if at night is because our complaints were lodged at night when the noise was at its worst.

    And you cannot see the turbines at night!

    The wind farm operator eventually attended to this problem after our many complaints. But now the blades can be heard to slap and slice the air in strong winds! And this is becoming more obvious with each passing year as the turbines get older.

    The other problem with the Cape Bridgewater site of course is “Dirty Wind”.

  3. Jackie Rovensky says:

    While the industry may be looking at lighter weighted blades, that will not make things safer. If a blade is lighter it could travel further especially in light winds and certainly in high winds. A piece of blade flying through the air at speed no matter what its weight will slice through a human body.

  4. The piercing, red, blinking lights, set to blink at ridiculously short intervals, on turbines that are sited in clusters are the worst. They not only make the environment feel utterly eerie but the eye of the driver is drawn to them. This madness must stop!
    The irony is, in Huron County, Ontario, I can say without a doubt that after living here for almost 40 years, I have observed that we do not have low flying planes after dark that need to be alerted. Using that as justification for ruining our visual environment and distracting drivers is not valid.

  5. Reblogged this on Patti Kellar and commented:
    As God is my witness, if one of those damn blades land on our property, there is going to be hell to pay.

  6. Reblogged this on citizenpoweralliance.

  7. THE ALIENS HAVE LANDED.

    Imposing in their hundreds,
    Such an army on display,
    Those alien grey metal monsters
    I saw while on my way.
    Aliens on our shores have landed,
    So tall, backs straight and true,
    At night they watch through flashing eyes
    Of red, at me and you.

    Some have scaled the mountains,
    Others near schools and homes,
    Of one thing I am certain,
    Those aliens have no souls.
    No “whispering” from their ranks at all,
    An unearthly sound they make,
    It envelops each and everyone,
    No more can humans take.

    Three giant arms revolving,
    Enveloping all around,
    They’re here to ‘save the planet’,
    The biggest “con” I have found.
    Such hideous tall grey monsters,
    Invade green and pleasant lands,
    To stay for generations,
    Unless the people make a stand.

    These aliens feed on power and wind,
    Without either, they will die,
    They’re NOT environmental friendly,
    They’re for profit, (at a cost), that’s WHY.

  8. E Griffiths says:

    Has anyone ever had a road accident or a close miss as a result of being totally distracted by a waving fan whilst driving? Personally, I find them very distracting whilst driving.

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