More Wind Turbine Collapses: So Common You’d Think ‘Enemy’ Forces Were Involved

‘Forgotten washer’ heard in hub before wind turbine collapsed in Cape Breton
CBC News
Brett Ruskin
15 May 2017

Just hours before a massive wind turbine collapsed last year in Cape Breton, a technician performing routine maintenance heard what was believed to be a washer lost in the structure’s hub.

The incident — believed to be the first catastrophic failure of its kind in the country — is described in internal emails between turbine manufacturer Enercon Canada Inc. and the provincial Labour Department. CBC News obtained the documents through a freedom of information request.

The 80-metre turbine at the Point Tupper Wind Farm buckled around its midpoint and crashed to the ground on Aug. 17, 2016.

No workers were injured, no personal property was damaged and the power grid was not affected by the failure.

Brake not applied

The heavily redacted documents said the turbine’s blades and damaged hub were removed the day before the collapse. The hub was replaced while the blades were reattached.

“Some technical challenges were encountered, but were overcome upon consulting technical support,” Enercon’s managing director said in an email dated Dec. 16, 2016. The director’s name has been blacked out.

Enercon’s email did not elaborate on the hub’s damage. However, documents from the Labour Department regarding a subsequent stop-work order said a hub assembly was damaged in a “bearing failure” in March 2016.

On Aug. 17, workers tested the turbine’s lightning-protection system, which required positioning the blades so they pitched into the wind.

That’s when something went wrong, according to Enercon’s email.

“When the rotor is unlocked, a noise is heard (suspected to be a forgotten washer in the hub),” it said.

“The Enercon technician opens the hatch to look for the washer. He notices the blades are pitched in (approx. 2 [degrees]) instead of pitched out at 90 [degrees].

“The electromechanical brake was not applied … At this moment, the Enercon technician informs the workers to climb down the WEC [wind energy converter] and proceed to the next site.”

Tower evacuated

The email said the tower was evacuated and the site cleared “as soon as the situation became dangerous.” Personnel were moved to a safe distance away from the turbine before the structure toppled.

“Four hours after the evacuation of the turbine, the tower collapsed without harming anyone, no explosion nor fire was witnessed so no reporting of this property damage incident needed to be reported according to the Nova Scotia Health and Safety Act and regulations,” the email said.

Some residents in nearby Port Hawkesbury said at the time they saw the turbine spinning unusually fast before it fell.

The 10 other turbines at the site, built in 2010, were not affected by the collapse, according to Renewable Energy Services Ltd., which owns and operates the wind farm.

‘Bending it like a straw’

CBC News also obtained a separate email sent from provincial staff members to the deputy energy minister.

“There was an incident that occurred resulting in the blades of the turbine hitting the tower and ‘bending it like a straw,'” the deputy minister was told.

A stop-work order was issued by the Labour Department, which remained in place while Enercon explained what led to the collapse.

The stop-work order was lifted four months after the collapse, when the company showed it had complied with each of the department’s requests for information.

Enercon is a major player in the Nova Scotia wind power community, with its turbines generating 2.6 MW of electricity — enough to power thousands of homes.

The same turbine that collapsed in Point Tupper, called the E82, is also installed elsewhere in the province.

Second collapse

Less than five months after the collapse, a 50-metre turbine in Grand Étang, N.S., snapped in half during winds reaching 160 km/h. The turbine was made by Denmark-based Vestas.

Nova Scotia Power said no one was at the site at the time and no one was injured.
CBC News

STT couldn’t leave this line alone:

The incident — believed to be the first catastrophic failure of its kind in the country —

Normally the wind power outfit or turbine manufacturer’s PR team comes up with something like ‘this unshackled blade/turbine collapse/terrifying conflagration is extremely rare’, having feigned shock and reminded us that no one was killed in the incident in question.

In this story they might have qualified it further by claiming that it was the ‘first catastrophic failure of its kind’ at sea level, in Nova Scotia, on a Wednesday, after the full moon, to further reassure those forced to live and/or work anywhere near these things. It is, of course, their duty to help gloss over the fact that the wind industry has already clocked up over 160 human fatalities (so far), as detailed here: Looking for Safe, Affordable, CO2 Free Power? Then it’s Nukes or Nothing

STT has never felt the kind of restraint exhibited by PR spinners for the likes of Enercon and Renewable Energy Services Ltd, so we’re happy to relax their limits on ‘rarity’ and lay out a few of these catastrophic turbine incidents, starting with some total collapses:

turbine collapse fenner NY

Fenner, New York 2009.


Kansas, 2014.


Germany, 2014.


Starfish Hill, South Australia, 2013.

turbine collapse devon

Devon, 2014.

TurbineCollapse mill run 2014

Mill Run, Pennsylvania 2014.

turbine impsaCollapse

Brazil, 2014.

turbine collapse ireland

Tyrone, Ireland January 2015.

vestas v112

Sweden, December 2015.


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):


Sigel Township, Michigan, February 2016.


Pontecesco, Spain, January 2016.


Leystad, A6 Highway, Netherlands, May 2009.


Whitelee (near Glasgow), Scotland, March 2010.

Turbine Collapse Repower2

Menil-la-Horgne, France, December 2015.


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.

fire 6


About stopthesethings

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



  2. blue sky mining says:

    “..heavily redacted document..”

    What are they trying to hide??????

  3. “No workers were injured, no personal property was damaged and the power grid was not affected by the failure.”

    The power grid may have become slightly more reliable/stable.

  4. The more IWTs appear around the world, the more catastrophic events can be anticipated. It is the height of folly to gloss this over.

  5. While they work, they kill bats and birds. When they fall down, they put human lives at risk. Wind power. It’s an amazing lose-lose proposition!

  6. Question ?
    Do these blades have fiberglass in them.

      • So these monsters are an environmental disaster, as well as a serious health risk to anyone that comes in contact with these broken ugly monsters.

    • Melissa says:

      Hi pmm232, Blades are damaged by bird hits, overuse, lightning etc. and when the outer covering ‘delaminates’ and split, you can see the internal fibreglass hanging loose and probably spewing toxic fibres over the countryside, on and into our homes and water tanks. There is no legislation covering the disposal of used blades. No-one investigates the risk to the public. No authority warns when it occurs. Without permanent staff on site at wind farms it is left to and expected of neighbours to notice and report these faults; what other manufacturing business is operated so laxly? The process of recycling blades uses an expensive hot burning process or blades are sent to landfill. Talk about unsustainable. Where do damaged blades end up in Australia? Portland has one sitting in a transport yard…. it’s unobtrusively been sitting there at least a couple of years. Planning decisions fail over and over to consider the full impacts of wind turbines on humans, stock and wildlife.

      • Jackie Rovensky says:

        Unfortunately authorities will only begin to take notice when there has been a catastrophic ‘accident’, such as a school being hit by a disintegrating turbine or its parts, with lots of deaths and injuries.
        Authorities will then say ‘it’s not our fault we were told they were safe’.
        No one will take ownership of the disaster and those people damaged physically, emotionally, mentally and/or financially will have to ware the cost.
        What they fail to accept ‘accidents’ are very rare because they cannot be predicted – these things are manufactured structures so can be considered dangerous and prone to malfunction and ware and tear of parts/components. Therefore there are no ‘accidents’ where these things are concerned.
        The environmental damage being caused by these things day in day out before construction and after commencing operation is already a disaster – but who cares other than true environmentalists and everyday people who are intelligent enough to understand the dangers. Certainly not those who have a financial interest or political point to try and make.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: