Canada’s original wind farm along Cowley Ridge remains shut down for intensive structural inspection following the spontaneous self-destruction late Friday of one of its 18-year-old turbines.
System operators at TransAlta Corporation’s Calgary control centre were alerted by remote fault sensors that one of the Cowley Ridge turbines was vibrating unusually.
They immediately shut down the entire fleet of 57 turbines mounted atop 80-foot steel lattice towers – a design since replaced by the more familiar welded tubular towers.
Technicians dispatched to the scene from TransAlta’s Pincher Creek maintenance depot discovered that one of the three black fibreglass blades had broken off while the turbine was generating power.
When they returned the following morning they discovered that the bolted steel tower itself had buckled overnight, apparently after being weakened by the impact of the errant blade.
The 57 vintage turbines and towers were already scheduled for refurbishment this coming summer, TransAlta communications director Glen Whelan said.
Despite its age and obsolete engineering design, TransAlta intends to keep Canada’s first commercial wind farm in production.
Cowley Ridge wind farm will remain immobile for at least two weeks while each and every turbine blade is inspected for stress damage.
TransAlta acquired the Cowley Ridge site in 2009 when it took over pioneer wind developer Canadian Hydro.
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