How 40mph winds wrecked this turbine: Photo shows two blades torn off and a third buckled under force of gale
A single crooked blade dangling precariously from its rotor is all that remains of this wind turbine, which was left badly damaged by gusts of 40mph.
Two blades of the turbine were torn off altogether following storms last week, with one piece of debris estimated to have been thrown about 60 yards.
The incident has prompted calls for similar structures to be removed from nearby schools.
The 60 kilowatt turbine at Dunhobby, on Scrabster Hill, near Thurso, in the Highlands, was wrecked in storms on Friday evening.
The Highland Council has insisted it was ‘satisfied’ with the procedures in place to ensure ‘their safe operation’ in schools.
But Stuart Young, chairman of Caithness Wind Information Forum (CWIF) said the incident illustrated the need for turbines to be removed from schools.
He said: ‘Highland Council steadfastly refuses to acknowledge any risk from siting small wind turbines in school playgrounds and considers that only at 80mph – twice the wind speed which destroyed the Scrabster Hill turbine – is there any need to consider action.’
Mr Young said the council’s trigger level of 80mph to shut down turbines is 6mph above hurricane force, the highest level on the Beaufort Scale.
‘There is abundant evidence these machines can and do fail under conditions far less severe than warranted by manufacturers.’
Mr Young said the incident at Dunhobby was most likely to be ‘due to a technical fault but the wind magnified the problem’.
He said: ‘Surely now Highland Council will take notice and remove wind turbines from school playgrounds. This is not an anti-wind farm issue but a safety one.’
Following concerns expressed over the safety of wind turbines in school playgrounds, the council closed them down for a time last year while risk assessments were undertaken.
‘They were subsequently restarted earlier this year in the belief that any risk would be eliminated by having the turbines serviced twice a year rather than the standard once a year,’ added Mr Young.
Scrabster farmer John Henderson was granted permission in 2011 for the 25.9 metre turbine at Dunhobby. He was not available for comment yesterday.
A Highland Council spokesman said: ‘We are satisfied we have put in place the required risk assessments of wind turbines in schools to ensure their safe operation.’
It is not the first time turbines have suffered at the hands of strong winds.
In January this year a 115ft wind turbine crashed to the after struggling to stand up to 50mph gusts at East Ash Farm in Bradworthy, Devon.
Experts believe the winds were so strong the blades span out of control causing the massive structure to catch fire and collapse. It was supposed to have a life expectancy of 25 years but lasted just three.
Renewable energy company Dulas installed the Endurance Wind Power E-3120 50kW turbine at the site despite protests from villagers who said it would be noisy and spoil the view.
In January 2012 three turbines were wrecked in rough weather, while a 300ft turbine in Ardrossan, North Ayrshire, erupted in flames the previous month during gales of 165mph.
It was said to have been switched off, but had a ‘brake system failure’.
The accidents swept away any remaining illusions that strong winds simply mean more electricity being generated.
The turbines damaged in January 2012 stood within a mile of one another in the countryside around Huddersfield, West Yorkshire.
One in the village of Upper Cumberworth lost one of its three blades, and another in the same village lost two. A third, in nearby Hepworth, lost all three, with debris blown across a road into a neighbouring property.
Wind farms in Scotland were paid nearly £300,000 in the first five days of 2012 to close down because it was too windy.
The ‘constraint payments’ were made after they produced more energy than the National Grid could handle.
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