By Tamara Cohen, Daily Mail, www.dailymail.co.uk 6 January 2012
First there were the wind farms that had to be shut down if it got a bit blowy.
Then there was the turbine that burst into flames in a gale a month ago.
And now three turbines have been wrecked in the latest bout of rough weather – sweeping away any remaining illusions that strong winds simply mean more electricity being generated.
One of them stands – rather forlornly now – off a country road called Windmill Lane.
The damage raises yet more questions about the ability of such machines to cope with serious weather, let alone produce very much electricity.
Adding to such concerns will be the revelation yesterday that wind farms in Scotland were paid nearly £300,000 in the first five days of this year to close down because it was too windy.
The three damaged turbines all stand within a mile of one another in the countryside around Huddersfield, West Yorkshire.
The one in Windmill Lane in the village of Upper Cumberworth lost one of its three blades, and another in the same village lost two.
third, in nearby Hepworth, lost all three, with debris blown across a road into a neighbouring property.
The damage occurred on Thursday night when, according to the Met Office wind speeds near Huddersfield peaked at 77mph during fierce storms which felled trees, tore off roof tiles and damaged power cables.
Local residents say the falling blades could have injured or killed someone as they were flung to the ground.
Frances Barnes, who has ten acres of grazing land for horses nearby, said: ‘It is worrying. People objected to the plans when they first went in – not because it is a windmill but because it is so close to a busy road.
‘It is frightening to think what may have happened had one of the blades flown into the road and hit a car, or indeed if the wind turbine had come down.’
The 10kw turbines were made by Evoco, which says they have been through a ‘four-year period of in-house testing’.
The company, which claimed on its website they could ‘withstand harsh winters and wind speeds in excess of 90mph’ has begun an investigation.
The turbines are not part of a wind farm but sold individually to landowners to generate their own electricity and sell any excess back to the National Grid.
The company said it had installed 100 turbines in the area and all have been ‘braked’ so that they stop spinning until modifications are made.
A spokesman said: ‘We have recently experienced a series of turbine faults in a localised area of rural West Yorkshire area during record-breaking high winds.
‘Evoco turbines have recently weathered three lots of hurricane force winds, in which the overwhelming majority of our turbines have operated without any problems.
‘No one was hurt in the incidents, which are being investigated thoroughly. Health and safety issues are of primary importance to us, and we work to rigorous standards to maintain our excellent record.’
Christine Smith, a local Conservative councillor said: ‘This shows they can be very dangerous, these blades could have fallen on someone’s car or home. They are lucky someone was not walking nearby.
‘Wind turbines are flawed, they don’t work when it’s too windy, and don’t work when it’s not windy enough. There are much better alternatives to use less energy such as under-floor heating and insulation.
‘These companies are putting in applications left, right and centre, and telling people they can make a lot of money out of them, but I think we need to look at some of these concerns before allowing any more to be built.’
Last month a 300ft turbine in Ardrossan, North Ayrshire, erupted in flames during gales of 165mph. It was said to have been switched off, but had a ‘brake system failure’.
In Scotland the £300,000 payments over the first five days of this year were shared by four turbine operators.
The controversial ‘constraint payments’ were made because they produced more energy than the National Grid could handle and had to shut down.
Up to 32,000 wind turbines could be built in England and Wales over the next 40 years to meet government targets.
Last year 17 wind farm operators were paid £7million to shut down on 40 occasions between January and September.
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URL to article: https://www.wind-watch.org/news/2012/01/08/wrecked-by-gales-again-as-windfarms-get-300000-to-switch-off-in-high-winds/