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Investigations continue into why turbines collapsed

By North Devon Journal  |  Posted: February 07, 2013

By Philippa Jenkins

  • COLLAPSED: Above and below, the collapsed turbine at East Ash Farm, Bradworthy. Picture: Mike Southon. To order this photograph call 0844 4060 269 and quote Ref: BNMS20130129D-007_C

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THE collapse of two turbines within the space of four days has triggered numerous investigations as well as the secretary of state calling for wind farm operators not to let turbines be a danger to the public.

The first turbine collapsed in the early hours of January 27 at East Ash Farm, Bradworthy near Holsworthy.

The turbine was a 35-metre Endurance Wind Power E03120 turbine, which had been installed in 2010 and was the first of that model to be put up in the UK.

The second turbine collapsed last week on January 30 at Winsdon Farm in North Petherwin, North Cornwall, it was a 25 metre 11kw Gaia turbine.

Despite no one being injured in either incident, the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Ed Davey MP , spoke out in the House of Commons on Thursday after being asked about the 35-metre turbine collapsing.

He said: "Clearly, people who develop and run and maintain wind farms, as with any sort of industrial installation, have to make sure that they are fit and aren't a danger to the public.

"Otherwise various authorities will come down on them and they will find themselves liable."

Now a week later the investigations into the collapses by Dulas Ltd, who installed the Endurance turbine, manufacturer Endurance Ltd and the health and safety executive continue.

Endurance has confirmed they are investigating 20 other turbines of the same model as the one in Bradworthy which were installed at the same time.

They have confirmed the collapse was not due to a fault in the tower or turbine itself.

Dulas has denied rumours that the turbine collapsed because of a fire.

In a statement released on Endurance's website they said: "We are working cooperatively with the dealer that installed the turbine and the engineering firm that designed and supplied its foundation to understand the precise cause of the problem.

"Endurance Wind Power has more than 300 turbines installed in the UK.

"As a precautionary measure, approximately 20 installations that occurred during the same time period are also being inspected.

"Communication with dealers and customers has been often, fluid, and transparent since the incident occurred.

"We appreciate and understand the public interest in this story but the investigation will take time and, as such, it is premature to speculate on an exact root cause until the investigation is concluded.

"In the meantime, should you have any questions or concerns, please email them to tblackburn@endurancewindpower.com"

Bob Barfoot, from the Devon branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, who is also a planning consultant and engineer, said he has never seen a similar incident occur.

He said: "This is very worrying. You see turbines catch fire or lose blades more regularly but I don't think I have seen one like this before.

"Not having investigated it myself I don't know what has caused it but it has obviously collapsed from the bottom of the tower.

"We are now all just waiting to see the outcome of the investigations which will be revealed at some point.

"I think this will make landowners have second thoughts about installing a turbine though."

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2 comments

  • Vindpust  |  February 08 2013, 3:49AM

    Any engineer would regard 2 machines suffering a catastrophic collapse out of 300 installed as worrying. This should be matter of extreme concern to the company. Many agents are heavily promoting these models as more reliable than other models such as Proven. The leading UK manufacturer went into receivership in September 2011 after serious faults with its flagship P35-2 model, leaving dozens of owners with stalled, faulty turbines and no guarantees. There is a troubling history of failed turbines and businesses in the small wind sector: Swedish Hannevind also went bankrupt in 2011, a 30m Hannevind turbine in Berwickshire had to be collapsed after run-away brake failure. Evoco turbines, made in Yorkshire, have suffered a number of blade losses and at least one collapse. French Eoltec turbines have seen blade assemblies fell off several machines in Northern Ireland and Scotland; Scottish Trading Standards have reported Eoltec to French safety authorities after owners received no help. An article in the renewables press has reported that many smaller turbines have inherent design issues, are not living up to expectations and that, "... action by disappointed small turbine turbine owners may ultimately push many local installers into bankruptcy". According to Ben Cosh, managing director of the installation specialist TGC Renewables, "Fundamentally, wind at low height is quite complex and turbulent, and these turbines need to be based on much more complicated [simulations] than the design engineers are currently using. '"They design a turbine in their computer system which looks lovely, then they put it in the real world and it breaks." ('Scots bid to keep Proven local as small wind faces sceptics', Recharge News, 21 September, 2011). Anyone who reads the wind industry press will know of dozens of examples of technical failures of smaller turbines

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  • Vindpust  |  February 08 2013, 3:25AM

    "Bob Barfoot, from the Devon branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, who is also a planning consultant and engineer, said he has never seen a similar incident occur." Bob, another E-3120 collapsed in Shropshire last year, shortly after being commissioned, see - 'More trouble with wind turbines', Shropshire Star, 20 January, 2012: http://tinyurl.com/b3cqudc

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