Gamesa Inc. on Friday identified a defect in an applicator used to apply a thin Fiberglas layer to wind-turbine blades as the cause of blade splintering and breakage.
The blades are manufactured at Gamesa’s Ebensburg-area factory.
A two-month investigation was begun after blade problems were uncovered at the Allegheny Ridge Wind Farm being built in Cambria and Blair counties, and delayed the startup of some windmills. The turbine farm eventually will become the state’s largest.
Gamesa officials said the malfunctioning, foot-long applicator caused an irregular line of adhesive, resulting in problems with 13 of nearly 400 blades produced during the past year at the plant.
“The piece was defective and it did not allow for the correct application of the adhesive,” said Lance Marram, a vice president for Gamesa in North America.
Originally, Gamesa said seven of the blades showed splintering, but a site inspection revealed more, officials said.
The problem at the plant forced delay of the planned March-April startup of Allegheny Ridge owned by Babcock & Brown Power Operating Partners LLC. Officials are hopeful some towers can be operating on a trial basis within weeks with the farm’s planned startup in July, Marram said.
Eleven of the 143-foot-long blades installed at the wind farm were found to be defective, including two with Fiberglas that broke off and fell to the ground. The others showed signs of cracking.
Two additional blades were in shipments sent elsewhere in the country, Gamesa spokesman Michael Peck said.
“From the moment this was reported, we’ve been totally focusing on it. We brought in experts from Spain,” Peck said. He added that the splintering marks the first time Gamesa has had manufacturing problems with any of the 33,500 blades produced to date, worldwide.
Gamesa is proud of the 268 employees at the local plant, where more than $60 million has been invested, Peck said.
By Kathy Mellott
11 May 2007
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