More than seven months after grinding to a halt, the 479-foot wind turbine that rises high above the Applied Materials’ Varian Semiconductor Associates campus remains idle while the other two in Gloucester’s Blackburn Industrial Park continue to spin away.
Officials with the Calfornia-based parent company of Gloucester’s largest employer say they are working on plans to repair the Applied turbine on Dory Road in the coming months, and remain committed to wind and other “clean energy sources” in Gloucester and elsewhere.
Kevin Winston, head of corporate communications for Applied Materials, based in Santa Clara, California, acknowledged that the turbine, the biggest of the three within the Blackburn complex, first failed on Sept. 24 and has been “out of operation due to a technical problem” since.
“We are in the process of planning and implementing a repair,” he added.
“Applied remains committed to renewable energy generation and making the Gloucester turbine fully operational with repairs completed in the next six months,” he said.
That time frame would mean the turbine could be out of commission for a little more than a year.
Without identifying the turbine’s specific failure, Winston said the problem involves “an issue with one of the key components inside the nacelle.”
The nacelle, he said, is the casing that holds the motor behind the giant rotor that spins the blades.
Winston emphasized that the company saw significant savings in energy costs when the turbine was working. He said Applied/Varian, which employs 950 people at its Blackburn campus, looks forward to completing the repairs to get the turbine back in motion.
“The turbine generates 2.6 megawatts of power … has increased our onsite renewable energy generation by nearly 20 percent, and achieves a $1 million annual net savings,” Winston said in an email to the Times.
The Applied Materials/Varian turbine was the first of the three at the industrial park to be fully installed. It began turning late in 2012.
The turbine’s oversized parts, including rotor blades that spread 295 feet in diameter, had to be ferried over water into a staging area at Cruiseport Gloucester, then trucked gingerly up to the Blackburn site. It was also built almost exactly a year after Applied Materials closed on its $4.9 million acquisition of Varian Semiconductor Associates in November 2011.
The two other Blackburn Industrial Park turbines, which generate energy and savings for the city of Gloucester through an agreement with National Grid and a Needham-based corporation called Equity Partners, have brought in more than $708,000 in National Grid credits and revenue for the city’s coffers through fiscal 2015.
The Gloucester turbines, which began spinning in December 2012, have also generated annual in-lieu-of-tax payments from Equity that reached $42,000 in the last fiscal year, according Equity leasing figures.
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