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Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Wind Turbines. Blade and other Failures

From an E mail sent to me.

According to Caithness Windfarm Information Forum, as more wind farms are built, more failures occur. The forum notes that of the average 104 turbine incidents each year, by far the biggest number are related to blade failure resulting in either whole blades or pieces of blade being thrown from the turbine. A total of 208 separate blade failure incidents have been reported up to June 2011.

Fraser McLachlan, CEO at G Cube comments: “There have been a number of significant [blade] failures this year. They are costing the insurance industry millions of euros.”

Indeed, the rotor represents between 15-20% of the total cost of a turbine. And large blades which can be up to 70m long cost anything between US$30,000 and US$100,000 each. In addition replacing a single blade is not an isolated cost- work needs to be done to ensure that the two remaining blades are properly balanced.

An average of 104 per year. so they’re not only inefficient, but downright dangerous. An example:

Blade failure 06/09/2011 Lister Hospital,
Hertfordshire, England

"Six-foot blade flies off new Lister turbine". A six-foot blade flew off after only a week's
operation, and landed on a car, damaging its roof. The turbine is on the roof of a brand new
Hospital car park.

And that’s only a small one. Just imagine what a 70m one would do.



Worth a look here if you would like to see a table of accidents to turbines and the resulting outcomes.


  1. and I wonder what the wind speed was during these failures. I've been harping on this over on 2x4 for some time. past a certain windspeed [which is somewhere between 40-60mph..don't remember exactly right now] the blades have to be feathered and laid flat against the turbine mounting. or retracted if their small enough. Why? because past that aforementioned windspeed the whole unit will tear itself apart. oooops someone didn't read the fine print again! big shock

  2. Wish one would take that pompous, arrogant little twat Huhne off at the neck ..

  3. DCW.Our North sea ones have to have the brake applied.

  4. A few of the smallest units have flexible blades which distort and alter their pitch. This saves them having to be mechanically changed. However there is no way this principle could be applied to the massive composite blades used on full sized turbines. There a couple of them right beside a main "A" road near me, and it's rather worrying to see just how much the blades bend when working in a fair breeze. And don't forget failures of the support tower - one such case was reported in Germany a few months ago.

    Oh, and lots of fires too!

  5. Dave. Fires? hadn't heard about that one.

  6. As MD says, support towers are suspect too.

    It's only a week ago that ther was publicity surrounding poor Gorran School's misfortune with its "investment" of Taxpayers' money.

  7. Well I live alongside the current 'biggest windfarm in Europe' according to Dong Energy in the sea betwixt Barrow-in-Furness and the Isle of Man. There are three types of turbine out there as far as I can tell.
    Some first gen which are basically shore based turbines on monopods and have been there for around five or six years. There is always one or two from this farm with blades at odd angles.
    Some much bigger second gen also on monopods. Given the fact they are sitting in a few hundred feet of sand, mud and pebbles it shouldn't be too long before they start sinking.
    Lastly we have 35 of the biggest offshore turbines in existence sat on huge quadrapod bases which poke out about twenty feet above the sea.
    When the wind blows enough to turn the majority rather lazily there are always a couple in each 'farm' turning rather quicker. At first I thought it was a vagary of the wind but when the giants were commissioned they began turning when the wind didn't blow.
    They are on some sort of grid system as there are always three out of the 35 turning at the same time and the three are usually facing a different direction to the others ergo they are being turned by electricty from the grid. A fact confirmed by a friend whose husband used to be the engineer in charge of the first two onshore farms.

    But to bring this drawn out rant to an end... we also have a pair of totally and utterly useless turbines on the Twatco car park. One has never worked and just stands there as monument to the folly of man and his religions, the other seems to spin rather too fast. More often than not it has its brakes applied when a strongish wind blows on but I am confident that this turbine is the most likely to shed a blade and as it is surrounded by cars, shoppers, and a Twatco Extra the size of two football fields that is open 24 hours it won't be a pretty sight when it throws a blade.

  8. Bill. when the wind doesn't blow they have to be back fed from the grid in order to keep the lubrication for the gearbox to continue.

  9. @ FE 20:21

    I wonder how much the National Grid charges for the back-fed 'leccy????

    It ought to be a high price because, by definition, that 'leccy has to come from virtual base-load because there are few turbines generating.

  10. I should also have mentioned we have yet more green lunacy round our way.
    I have the onshore station for the Morecambe Bay gas fields run by Centrica just along the road from where I live, two miles as the crow flies. The gas is fed into the grid and some is used by the next door gas fired power station also run by Centrica which is a top up station for the grid.

    Well apparently the gas station is coming to the end of its life but crucially the gas field isn't. So logic would suggest that Centrica builds a better gas fueled power station but no it's going to build a 'bio mass' power station instead. The nearest forest is 30 miles away. There are no sources of recycled timber within at least 50 miles of this new station and we don't have enough cows to keep it fuelled by cow pat.
    The local green loons hail this as 'the way to go'
    A guy on the comments boards of the local rag highlighted the amount of fossil fuels that will be required to transport the bio mass to the plant.

    "Today gas is brought ashore in a pipeline and burnt in a power station to produce electricity. The only waste products are carbon dioxide (a plant food) and water. There are no transport or disposal costs financial or environmental.

    Tomorrow the new power plant will have it's dead plant fuel (wood) transported from across the country and possibly the continent of Europe or anywhwere else in the world for that matter."

    The company is having to build a new railway line to the site to transport the fuel and clear away the ash left, means the environment takes a bigger hit than it does when the existing plant burns its gas.

    You end up with this garbage in reply.

    Today we burn fossil fuels creating tons of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas responsible for holes in the ozone layer and changes to our climate. Or we use nuclear power which has created disasters such as that in Japan.

    Tomorrow we will have biomass power plants where a range of organic waste products can be transformed into electricity in a cost-effective way. The deniers have [as Tony admits] no idea about its benefits but try to rubbish it anyway. It's not perfect and does release some carbon dioxide [but far less than coal power] but the power produced in normally used in the local area and so does not require long distance transport.

    We should all be so proud.

    Should add the guy responding in italics is a first rate socialist who thinks turbines 'look pretty'!

  11. Not just the Gearbox FE, have a look at this.

  12. Bill.

    The Loons just trot out the same mantra they are fed. To them it is a religion. If they actually sat down and thought..............

    Oh no, that would be terrifying.

  13. BB.

    Yes I've looked into all of that before. The Ecoloons just see the simple side of making energy from these wind follies. If only they'd do their homework.

  14. Bill. They really are technically illiterate.

    "Today we burn fossil fuels creating tons of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas responsible for holes in the ozone layer and changes to our climate. Or we use nuclear power which has created disasters such as that in Japan."

    Firstly CO2 was never connected to the hole in the ozone layer. CFC's were the supposed culprit.

    Secondly, nuclear power is no more unsafe than any other power generation.

    Numpty of the first order

  15. Bill. Have you the URL of that site?

  16. Here you are my good man

    Have fun.

  17. @ Da Curly Wolf - just Google "Wind turbine on fire".

    The problem with these "incidents" is there is nothing any Fire Brigade can do except sit back and watch. They're too high up to tackle. And the burning parts can travel quite a distance...

  18. Here's a nice video of one burning to a charred shell:

    And the mast collapse I mentioned earlier: This one's in German, but you get the idea.

  19. You know, FE, there are two classes of turbines which spin quite merrily, and one hardly ever hears of such an absurdity as a blade flying off. You, I imagine have had a long and intimate experience with turbines in both of these classes. I am less experienced, I have only experience of one class. I imagine many of your readers will have similar experiences.
    The two classes of turbine are of course, our old friend the steam turbine, and that interloper, the gas turbine.
    Those blades are, right now, as I type, spinning, in their thousands, producing unheard of quantities of power and ferrying unheard of numbers of people around the globe, at both at unheard of cheap costs, and with unheard of degrees of reliability and safety.
    The local environmental conditions experienced by the steam and gas blades, velocities, temperatures, surges, stresses and strains of all kinds, are all foreseen by the designers and the designs arranged to cater for all of those things.
    The result is they seldom, if hardly ever, fail.
    Because of good design.
    Perhaps windmill designers could take note.
    Brgds Peter Wolf.

  20. @Joe P "...publicity surrounding poor Gorran School's misfortune..." Bad enough these things chopping up birds, you might have thought they would have left the kids out of it.

    @Microdave, thank you for that splendid burnin' turbin' vid.

  21. I take it then, we are all in agreement that wind turbines are utter green crap?

    Thought so.


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