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Wind turbines grind to halt  

Credit:  MEGAN McNAUGHT, The Mercury, www.themercury.com.au 11 August 2010 ~~

Hobart’s new rooftop wind turbines have stopped after two of the blades came loose after spinning out of control.

HOBART’S new rooftop wind turbines have stopped after two of the blades came loose when they began spinning out of control.

The much-heralded turbines, which were installed on the Marine Board building on July 16, began generating power last month.
Police are now on site after two of the turbine blades came loose.

A witness who watched the drama unfold about midday says the two southern turbines appeared to be spinning out of control.
Phillip Groom, watched in disbelief from the top floor of a nearby building.

“One of my work colleagues swore and jumped up and pointed to the turbines. All four were spinning really, really fast,” he said.

“Two on the southern side of building appeared to have issues.

“The one that really concerned us was on the south-west corner of the building and it was spinning at a thousand miles an hour. But it was bent to one side and was wobbling from side-to-side.

“We were scared because we could see people walking on the street below and it looked like the whole assembly might fall right off the building.”

Mr Groom said one of his workmates called police and the turbines had been stopped within 15 minutes.

“It was a bit crazy but luckily they got things under control pretty quickly.”

Franklin Wharf near Mures opposite the Marine Board Building was closed to pedestrians and traffic while the wind turbines were assessed.

But a director of the company that operates the turbines said there was never any danger to passers by.

I Want Energy Director Rob Manson said a safety mechanism was activated that causes the turbines to fold in on themselves.

“We were very pleased to see the safety mechanism work exactly as it was meant to,” Mr Manson said,

“There was never any danger of them flying off the building or anything like that.”

Mr Manson said “excessive amounts of wind” caused the problem.

He said the turbines were designed to withstand “cyclonic” winds of 60m/sec.

It appeared that the electric breaking system may not have worked on two of the turbines.

Police Inspector Glen Woolley said police were alerted to the situation by a member of the public and immediately implemented an emergency situation.

“We closed off roads around the building to cars and pedestrians.

“Because of the nature of the situation we weren’t prepared to take any chances.”

Insp Woolley said police were getting well practiced at closing off part of the city, after this week’s bomb scare, but he did not believe they were over-reacting.

“The safety of the public is paramount.”

Bemused city workers were drawn out of their buildings to see what the fuss was about.

Hobart City Council worker David Beaver said he heard a loud crashing sound and joked that it might be a turbine falling down.

“I couldn’t believe it when I went outside and saw that it had actually happened.

“This shows they are obviously unsafe and they need to be taken down…. it is inappropriate for these things to be on the roof in the city if they are not properly secure.”

Fellow council worker Piangpen Narksut was also amazed, but said she hoped they would not be taken down.

“They were spinning like crazy this morning.

“It is a pity that this has happened because we need sustainable energy and they were serving a good purpose.

“But it isn’t really that windy today so they obviously need to be properly secured.”

Source:  MEGAN McNAUGHT, The Mercury, www.themercury.com.au 11 August 2010

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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