Wind turbines across the UK are being switched off after faults were found in several in Huddersfield.
The action was taken by Brighouse-based Evoco Energy following investigations into wind turbines that had broken in rural parts of Huddersfield.
The problems involve the Evoco 10kW turbine which sells for around £45,000 installed and comes in two sizes – 12m (39ft) or 15m (49ft).
It is understood that around 120 customers nationwide are being told to put the brake on their turbines immediately or risk invalidating their five-year warranties.
The move follows a spate of problems with turbines in the Cumberworth area of Huddersfield which has seen blades fly off – along with other problems.
One disgruntled customer is taking legal action to try to recoup his cash while two more have spoken out about their broken turbines.
Evoco says it will arrange an open day where customers can ask questions and said the turbines need to have ‘critical upgrades’ but has not given a timescale for the work to individual customers.
Fiona Benson paid £45,000 for the Evoco 10kW turbine at her home in Upper Cumberworth to power the house and a small caravan site. But she says all the blades have now fallen off.
In January this year an Evoco turbine was ripped apart by gale force winds at Upper Woodroyd Barn in Hepworth – and a blade was thrown across the road by huge gusts.
Identical models at Far Mount Farm and Drake Hill Farm in Upper Cumberworth were also damaged in the high winds during the first week of the New Year.
Farmer Peter Mitchell from Upper Woodroyd Barn said: “Evoco came to take the turbine down three weeks later and it’s still on its side in my field. I’m still trying to negotiate with them to get it back and running and clearly I’m not happy about the situation.
“The blades from mine went across a public highway and I wouldn’t want to be around one of these when it’s windy.”
Mrs Benson said: “The three blades have fallen off mine on different occasions. My house is 250 metres from the turbine so this is an intolerable state of affairs.
“If it is happening in this area then it may be happening all over the country.”
She added: “We have had to close the caravan site business because of this. We had converted the whole house to electricity and hoped to run the house and the caravan site off the turbine so it is absolutely critical to us.”
Mrs Benson’s turbine was put up by Evoco in December 2010, but blades flew off on separate occasions on February 17, 2011, September 13, 2011, and February 27 this year.
The company was called back to replace them each time.
She said: “Now all I have left is a stick but they won’t tell me when they are coming back and have offered no compensation. They don’t seem to have any rush to get things mended. They won’t give me a date when they are coming back.”
“The base is held by 10 bolts and I’ve now realised that one of them has snapped off. They came to look at it on October 25 and said the blades had to come down for safety.’’
Another disappointed customer is Terry Beaumont from Far Mount Farm in Cumberworth who said his Evoco 10kW turbine was installed in February 2011 but it has been broken 48% of the time since then. He is now suing Evoco for his money back.
He says problems have included blades, noise and vibration and it is not working at the moment.
“It’s had six different heads and three different sets of blades and they still can’t get it right,” he said. “We have given them every opportunity to put it right – we have been so tolerant and I have now asked for my money back and they have refused.
“We are exceedingly disappointed as we desperately wanted the turbine to be successful.”
We have now issued a writ and will be pursuing the case in the High Court.
An Evoco spokesman said: “Of all Evoco Energy wind turbines installed, only 3% have been reported back to us as less than 100% satisfied.
“Complaints are dealt with sympathetically, swiftly and fairly. We have compensated our customers when we feel it is appropriate.”
And in response to the January problems he added: “We have re-invested all profit back into the business in research and development. Evoco has invested £750,000 into this project alone to ensure our turbines are as safe and efficient as possible.”
In terms of Mrs Benson’s case Evoco said: “Although Mrs Benson’s turbine has suffered damage – which we have made good, the latter of the incidents she lists occurred during a period of deliberate destructive testing on her site, performed with her agreement and to rigorous standards as part of our investigation into the failures in January 2012.
“The data we collected from this testing assisted in the diagnosis and subsequent rectification of those now historic issues.
“We are actively working with Mrs Benson to provide a repair under warranty and her complaint centres around disputed financial compensation for loss of earnings rather than blade safety.
“Mrs Benson has confirmed to us in writing that she has earned on average £30 per day from her turbine which suggests earnings in excess of £21,000 tax-free since installation, well on track for payback of the turbine’s purchase price in just over four years.”
But Mrs Benson said that blade safety was her main concern.
She said: “I have lost my blades three times and on October 25 bolts were found on the ground which had dropped from the head and when Evoco came to take the blades down on October 29 the bolts were from the blades.”
She said the testing to destruction had taken place in January but nothing happened then – but the blades fell off later.
She added: “I need a new base but they won’t say when they will get one for me.
“Over the last two years the turbine has earned me £13,000, way short of the £12,000 per annum the company told me it would generate.
A Health and Safety spokeswoman confirmed that HSE is responsible for the manufacture and supply of wind turbines provided for use at work.
She added: “A meeting is to be held with Evoco at the end of this month.
“No investigations into any individual incidents or failings of Evoco wind turbines are under way. HSE is liaising with colleagues in the local authority’s trading standards department who are responsible for supply of wind turbines to domestic customers and will continue to do so.”
AFTER the wind turbines were damaged in Huddersfield by severe weather in January Kirklees Council halted planning applications on them.
The council banned applications for these turbines for a while, but then allowed them again following assurances from the company.
A Kirklees Council spokesman said: “Earlier this year a decision was taken to hold planning applications in abeyance for a specific model of turbine due to a number of mechanical failures that occurred during adverse weather.
“Following this decision the manufacturing company co-operated with the council and took steps to investigate the problem.
“This investigation identified an installation issue.
“The company subsequently demonstrated to the council that remedial measures to rectify the problem had been implemented and were also acceptable under the Micro-generation Certification Scheme.
“Planning applications were reactivated and determined in the normal way.”
Evoco has fully explained the problems the 10kW turbine is facing in an email to companies selling the product.
Here is the full statement:
“Since last year we have been working on a series of key upgrades which have been in development throughout the whole of 2012 and are now in the final stages of testing.
“The aim was always to roll these out before high winds. This hasn’t come to fruition in time for the high wind season, however. In light of the events around this time last year we need to put safety first and put the fleet on brake.
“We are expecting a percentage of turbine owners to be highly dissatisfied with this situation and we would therefore propose to invite customers to an open day at Evoco’s Head Office where we will demonstrate the upcoming upgrades and hold a full and frank question and answer session.
“We require all turbines to be placed on brake as soon as possible.
“We will be rolling out the following critical upgrades:
Pitch lever arm update.
Monitoring and control system incorporating electronic brake assist.
Remote shutdown and high wind speed pitching actuator.
“The upgrades are complete and are undergoing final stage testing before being released on the fleet.
“We require a full range of weather conditions before the technology is signed off by engineers as good to go.
“On site upgrades are expected to commence before Christmas. The actual upgrades are quick to install and will be performed by our nationwide contractor who we have been training over the past four months.
“We confirm we will be writing directly to all turbine owners.”
According to the firm’s website:
“The Evoco 10kW turbine comes in two heights, 12m (39ft) and 15m (49ft).
The Evoco 10kW 12m tower costs £35,900 plus VAT, excluding installation while the Evoco 10kW 15m Tower cost £38,300 plus VAT excluding installation. The installation costs are between £8,000 and £10,000.
The Evoco 10kW is fully MCS [Micro-generation Certification Scheme] certificated and designed in line with BS EN 61400 (Small Wind Standard)
Since becoming one of the first turbines to achieve full MCS certification, the Evoco 10kW turbine has rapidly become a favourite among farmers and rural land owners.
The Evoco 10kW turbine has been specifically designed to reliably deliver high generation performance in harsh wind conditions.
Producing an energy yield with the potential to generate an income of up to £14,000 per annum, Evoco 10kW investors can easily achieve a very short payback, typically in less than the five-year warranty period.
With an energy yield of up to 45,000 kWh per annum – equivalent to the requirements of 10 average households – the Evoco 10kW is ideally suited to producing electricity for larger properties such as farms and rural residences. All of the energy produced earns a generous Clean Energy Cashback (FITs) payment whether it is used on site or is surplus to local requirements and is fed onto the national grid.
An Evoco Energy wind turbine allows you to produce your own green electricity, generate an additional income and effectively reduce your carbon footprint while publicly promoting your commitment to renewable energy.”