November 13, 2007

Collapse won’t close isles wind farm

A Shetland wind farm will carry on operating despite the collapse of a turbine identical to the ones they are using.

A 200 foot high Vestas V47 turbine was bent in half during storms at Scottish Power’s 26 megawatt wind farm, at Beinn an Tuirc, in Argyll and Bute, last week.

This site and two others owned by Scottish Power, in the Borders and Ayrshire, had their turbines shut down as a precaution until the cause of the problem is investigated fully by engineers.

Shetland Aerogenerators operates three Vestas V47s at the five turbine Burradale wind farm, near Lerwick.

The company were informed of the situation by Vestas and say they will “promptly and appropriately comply with any advice they get from the manufacturers.”

Their only immediate safety instructions were not to allow any workers to go up to the site in winds of more than 60 mph, which is considered “common sense” anyway.

Company director David Thomson said: “The wind may or may not have anything to do with this. Right now, we have no idea what happened. We are just waiting now with bated breath to hear.

“Shetland Aerogenerators has not closed its site. One reason is, we have had no advice from anyone to do so and two, even if we did want to close our site how would we do it?

“We could switch off our turbines, but will that make it safer for anyone standing next to them? We don’t have the right or ability to physically prevent people from going up the hill due to the right to roam legislation.

“Until we get any further information we carry on as normal. I am quite sure we will eventually find out what caused this turbine to collapse, but there is no suggestion that all the other ones are about to collapse as well.”

Mr Thomson suggested that it might even be more dangerous to shut down the turbines from a technical point of view with no supporting evidence to imply this would be necessary.

He said: “These machines are designed to operate in the wind. If you disconnect the turbine it can no longer turn to face the wind or circle its blades, so you actually start getting forces acting on the turbine that it is not really designed to take.

“The safest thing we can do unless otherwise advised by Vestas is to let these things work the way they are supposed to work.

“Until we know what caused that turbine to fall over it would be almost dangerous to speculate.”

A spokesman for Scottish Power said the results of their investigation should be back “relatively soon.”

By Gavin Morgan

The Shetland News

13 November 2007

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