Nothing is more emblematic of clean, renewable energy than the soothing blades of a wind turbine placidly turning in the breeze. Whenever I encounter a wind farm, I’m instantly calmed, dare I say hypnotized, by the tranquility.
So when one of these gentle green giants catches fire, like it did in the above photo, the image is jarring to say the least. Most jarring is that this seems to happen more than you might think.
Most recently this happened in Androssan, North Ayrshire, Scotland, an area recently hammered by winds up to 160 mph, compliments of a beastly Atlantic storm that clobbered northern parts of the U.K. early this week.
As you can see from this photo, the turbine exploded, spewing large pieces of flaming material on the ground below.
The windfarm’s operator, Infinis of Edinburgh, said the cause of the fire is not yet known and that the incident is under investigation.
It’s not entirely clear what went wrong (normally wind turbines shut down when winds reach 55 mile per hour), so the investigation will likely focus on that mechanism and possibly the gearbox, which controls rotor speed.
“As a standard precautionary measure, all Infinis staff vacate wind farms when wind speeds exceed 55 mph and therefore no one was present on site at the time of the incident,” Infinis explained in a press release.
As well, the site has been disconnected from the electricity grid until further notice.