What’s notable about this story is not that a 160 tonne turbine collapsed without warning, nor is it the effort by the wind power outfit’s spin doctor to pretend that this is the first time a 90m tower has taken a tumble to terra firma (a line we demolish, so to speak, below).
No, what is remarkable is their effort to keep a lid on the collapse, only acknowledging it 7 days after the event, and then only because neighbours kicked up a stink.
Safety probe launched after collapse of 480-foot wind turbine in Ayrshire
29 January 2017
ENERGY chiefs have launched an urgent probe following the collapse of the 160-ton turbine.
The catastrophic collapse of a giant wind turbine is being investigated.
A 480-foot high turbine came down in a storm – only the second windmill in Scotland to crash to the ground.
The astonishing structural failure of the £2 million machine has prompted demands for information by the community in Barrhill.
The Kilgallioch wind farm is operated by Scottish Power Renewables which had failed to alert the public to the incident for SEVEN DAYS.
Luckily nobody was near the 160-ton turbine at the time it fell.
The Ayrshire Post’s source says the 328-foot tower “creased” at the access door at ground level.
The three blades and switchgear were all smashed on impact.
And he added: “Debris was spread over half a kilometre and a crane was been brought in to try and clear the damage.
“The company was trying to keep things hush-hush and were not keen to say anything.
“The site is so large and unseen from public roads that the only way to see the collapse is from the air.
“Local people want the alarm raised as they feel things are going on unreported.”
It happened during the early hours of Friday, January 13 as the area was hit by high winds and snow squalls.
At the time 55mph gusts were blowing in from the north west.
The following Friday the company released a basic statement admitting it had happened.
The tower which fell was still to generate any electricity for the grid.
The £300million Kilgallioch development has 96 mills and will generate 239 mega watts to power up to 130,000 homes when fully onstream later this year.
It will be one of the largest onshore farms in the UK.
Spanish firm Gamesa and Scottish Power are carrying out a joint investigation.
The site is peaty moorland spread over 12 square miles.
One Glasgow-based national energy expert said: “A collapse like this is extremely rare.
“The whole industry will be keen to know where this steel came from and who fabricated the tower.
“It is a very worrying development indeed and will have major repercussions at this site and possibly others.”
The only other reported collapse in Scotland was ten years ago at another Scottish Power farm.
A 206-foot tower collapsed at Beinn an Tuirc in Kintyre and the company said then: “This has never happened before in the UK.”
Other collapses have been revealed in Northern Ireland, California and Denmark.
The Ayrshire Post was alerted to the Barrhill collapse on Friday by an anonymous caller.
But there was no visible damage either from the main Newton Stewart Road or the B7027 Drumlamford Estate back route.
Scottish Power refused to answer specific questions on the incident or provide a photograph of the debris.
The company claimed “all proper reporting procedures have been followed.”
A spokeswoman said: “We are currently investigating an incident relating to an installed turbine at Kilgallioch Windfarm during the early hours of Friday, January 13. The turbine was not yet operational and no one was in the vicinity at the time.”
Scottish Renewables, the sector’s promoter, said wind has a good safety record.
Senior Policy Manager Lindsay Roberts, Senior Policy Manager at Scottish Renewables, said: “Onshore wind turbines are well-proven and reliable, and incidents are extremely rare.
“It is important to note that in this case the turbine involved was not yet generating electricity for the grid and is part of a wind farm which is under construction.
“The incident has been reported to all statutory authorities and a full investigation is underway. All involved will look to learn any relevant lessons to ensure our industry continues its exceptional safety record.”
Since this post first went to air, our Scottish operatives at Wind Energy’s Absurd slipped us this pic of what Gamesa and Scottish Power Renewables were so very keen on preventing the world from seeing. Thanks WEA!
Well, let’s take a look the wind industry’s “exceptional safety record”…. with this lengthy pictorial – starting with a few tower collapses:
With gravity one of nature’s constants, wind farm neighbours can hardly rest assured. Expect more of the same.
Then there is the ‘minor’ issue of ‘component liberation’.
Turbine blade failures, including events where 10 tonne blades are thrown to the 4 winds are so common that we have considered running a separate site dedicated to their aerial escapades – here’s a few to whet your appetite for destruction (the captions are linked to the stories behind the pictures):
Now that those who are forced to travel past, live with and work near these things know how rare it is for 10 tonne blades to be thrown to the 4 winds; how rare it is for 60 tonne rotors to drop 90m from the heavens; and how rare it is for 160m high, 290 tonne turbines to plummet to Earth, we expect you feel a whole lot safer. No?
Welcome to your wind powered future.