Following illustrated news of the spectacular self-combustion of a 100-metre wind turbine earlier this month in gale-force winds, the wind developers’ association, RenewableUK, described it as a freak accident.
This is not the case.
There have been a number of similar incidents, including a well recorded and photographed example in the United States, where great chunks of flaming turbines were thrown through the air, one blade crushing a vehicle belonging to the developer.
Many wind farm application stress the recreational value of walking through wind farms. This is clearly not safe.
Pictures of all incidents of wind turbine self-destruction by fire are very similar and represent a characteristic failure mode, which is not specific to one size, model or manufacturer.
What the different turbines have in common is a generator based on super-magnetic alloys of rare earth metals.
If the fires involve a burning heavy metal alloy, or the highly toxic neodymium rare earth used in the magnets, there could be serious contamination.
An independent inquiry should be established as a matter of some urgency.
J Mark Gibson,
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