Blog Post

Holy Breaking Wind Turbines!

A Suzlon wind turbine in Wyanet, Ill., had one of its 140-foot long blades break off this week (via Environmental Capital). The Indian turbine maker is still investigating this turbine failure but it appears to be related to the blade recall announced in March which requires the retrofitting 1,251 (417 sets) blades, mostly in the U.S., because of a design flaw that leads to blade cracking. The recall problem has already cost the company millions in canceled orders.

Earlier this year, the dramatic self-destruction of a Vestas wind turbine caught on video prompted the Danish climate minister to launch an investigation into turbine failure rates. The wind industry is moving to remedy the increasingly high-profile problem with the formation of the Reliawind project, a consortium of wind energy companies who are working together to improve the reliability, availability and overall up-time of their turbines.

When we reported on the videotaped Vestas turbine explosion, the wind energy watchdog group Industrial Wind Action Group had a list of 36 turbine failures in the U.S. Today that list has grown to 51 recorded turbine failures. Across the pond, the British group Caithness Wind Farms, which tracks such global turbine accidents, says the number has jumped to 65 so far this year, up from 11 in 2001. The groups are by no means “anti-wind” but simply want more transparency and better testing of turbine reliability, especially as turbine installations move closer to populated areas, a legitimate concern and one that Suzlon says is of the highest priority.

Photo courtesy of the Industrial Wind Action Group.

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