A wind turbine at a North East hospital which has stood idle since 2007 is to be taken down.
The engine at Wansbeck General Hospital at Ashington, Northumberland, is to be removed due to the high cost of repairing it. Ashington Town Council last night said the turbine had become a feature of the community and described the decision as regrettable.
The structure was intended to produce one tenth of the energy consumed by the hospital, and to power its wards and operating theatres,.
However, last November, it was revealed that the machine had produced no electricity since 2007.
A fault had developed on the tip of one of its blades, when its carbon fibre coating started to come loose. It was repaired, but the fault re-appeared later and the turbine was switched off.
Critics of wind power said at the time that the problem came as no surprise, claiming the engines were unreliable as an electricity source.
Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, which owns the hospital, said the turbine had produced an average of 140,000 kilowatts of electricity per year, which is approximately 18% of the electricity consumed by the hospital, since it was erected in 1992. The trust added that it had commissioned an external report to look into the feasibility of repairing and re-commissioning the structure or alternative uses to which it could be put.
Brian Griggs, the trust’s director of estates and facilities, said: “The costs of repairing the wind turbine at Wansbeck General Hospital are prohibitive so we are currently exploring a number of options to remove the turbine at minimum cost to the trust.
“However, we are committed to reducing our carbon emissions for both environmental and cost efficiency reasons, and we are looking into a number of projects to enable us to continue to do that across the trust.”
Councillor John McCormack, chairman of the town council, said: “I think we would find it really regrettable if that turbine, which has become quite a feature in the town, was taken down and no longer in use.
“We would prefer that it is repaired and brought into use. To remove it would be seen as a short-term solution.
“It is a pity this issue has not been addressed before now.”
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