- National Wind Watch: Wind Energy News - https://www.wind-watch.org/news -

Update: ‘One dead, one missing’ after China turbine blaze

An engineer has died and another classed as missing after a wind turbine made by China’s CSR caught fire in Inner Mongolia, according to local reports.

The accident happened at the Zhurihe Wind Farm No. 2 in Tongliao, Inner Mongolia, operated by Huaneng Renewables, says Chinese business newspaper 21cbh.

The two maintenance staff were carrying out work on the turbine’s power converter, which was manufactured by AMSC of the US, sources told the newspaper.

AMSC spokesman Jason Fredette says the company “just learned about this accident through the media today. … Our initial communications with people involved with this wind project indicate that our products were not involved in or the cause of the accident.”

The company extends its condolences to the families of the victims and has offered to help in the investigation in any way it can, Fredette says.

Huaneng has not confirmed details of the incident, which took place on 7 February but has only just been reported.

News of the incident comes at a sensitive time. AMSC is to go before the Beijing Arbitration Commission on Friday in the first stage of a multi-phase legal battle with Chinese wind turbine giant Sinovel over allegations of breach of contract and theft of intellectual property.

The arbitration hearing, postponed from its scheduled January date after a death in the family of the Sinovel arbitrator, will cover some $700m AMSC says it is owed by Sinovel for past shipment and exiting contracts.

No court dates have been set in AMSC’s civil cases against Sinovel. The dispute has gained attention at the highest levels of government on both sides of the Pacific. Massachusetts Senator John Kerry indicated he would raise the issue with Chinese leader-in-waiting Xi Jinping during his recent US visit.

The cause of the Zhurihe accident is still under investigation and the other turbines at the wind farm are operating normally.

CSR, or China South Locomotive & Rolling Stock Corporation, is a relatively new entrant to the wind turbine market. It has not commented, leaving several questions unanswered, including why the accident was only reported now, why CSR did not immediately inform AMSC and how a victim could still be missing two weeks after the fact.

AMSC’s website lists 2009 and 2010 deals to supply CSR with core electrical components for use in 1.65MW wind turbines. Those components are sub-systems that would have been integrated with other components to make the converter.

Huaneng Renewables listed on the Hong Kong stock market last year. It reported first half 2011 profits of 673.3m yuan ($107m) and had 3.7GW of installed capacity.