They are designed to harness one of Scotland’s greatest natural resources – turning out eco-friendly electricity as they stand proudly into the wind.
But one wind turbine has fallen down on the job because of … the wind.
Surprisingly, it took a healthy blow of only 50mph to bend the machine at the Beinn an Tuirc windfarm in half.
As a result, the windfarm along with two others has been closed down pending checks on all the turbines.
The 200ft Vespa V47 turbine at Beinn an Tuirc, ten miles north of Campbeltown, Argyll, collapsed last Thursday as winds topped 50mph, leaving the blades strewn on the ground. No one was injured but worried ScottishPower bosses decided to shut the 26-turbine facility – built at a cost of Pounds 21million – as a precaution.
They also ‘switched off’ production at two other windfarms which use the same Vespa V47 – the 26-turbine Dunlaw windfarm, near Lauder in the Borders, and the 20-turbine Hare Hill windfarm, close to New Cumnock, Ayrshire.
They will remain closed until the findings of an urgent investigation are known.
Engineers have been drafted in from the Denmark-based company which manufactures the machines in a bid to find out what went wrong.
It is understood that one of the issues being examined will be whether or not the blades were moving at the time of the incident – they should automatically stop in strong winds. ScottishPower said last night: ‘The turbine bent in half ‘It bent in half. It’s very unusual’
which is very, very unusual. It has never happened in the UK before.
‘An investigation is under way. We have closed down the site as a precautionary measure. The important thing is that we have the senior engineers across to investigate.
‘They arrived on Friday and now have the turbine down and are looking at it.
‘The windfarm will not re-open until we understand what has happened, whether it was mechanical or something else, and any problems have been rectified.’ The other two windfarms will also remain inoperative until the allclear has been given. The 72 machines switched off represent around a tenth of Scotland’s wind turbines.
ScottishPower added: ‘The machines are designed to take stress from high winds in these exposed locations. It is unusual for them to bend in half. We must find out what caused this.’ Wolf-Gerrit Fruh, a senior lecturer in energy engineering at Heriot- Watt University in Edinburgh, said: ‘It is the first time I have heard of one falling over. They are designed to withstand strong winds.’ But Bob Graham, chairman of Highlands Against Windfarms, warned that turbine collapses are likely to increase as more windfarms are built in Scotland.
By Maureen Culley
Daily Mail; London (UK)
13 November 2007
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