Following the spectacular self-combustion of a 100-metre wind turbine this month, the wind developers’ trade body, 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 poetically crushing a vehicle belonging to the developer.
Many wind farm planning applications stress the recreational value of walking through wind farms. This is clearly not safe.
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. Even the mining of neodymium in China has caused great loss of life. An independent inquiry should be established as a matter of urgency.
J Mark Gibson