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Lightning strike blamed for wind turbine blade damage at Lal Lal Wind Farm

SHATTERED: The remains of the wind turbine at Lal Lal Wind Farm after a lightning strike splintered a blade during a storm on Sunday. Picture: Alex Ford

Lal Lal Wind Farm operators have confirmed a lightning strike caused a giant wind turbine blade to break and fall to the ground during a storm on Sunday.

About 6.40pm, during the storm, a blade fell to the ground from a V-136 3.6 megawatt turbine.

Vestas, which operates the Lal Lal Wind Farm east of Ballarat, said there were no injuries and no further damage to the turbine structure as a result of the loss of the blade.

“The area has been sealed off and our technical people are on site,” said Vestas spokeswoman Rebecca Zhang.

As a precaution, turbines in the Yendon section of the Lal Lal Wind Farm were switched off soon after the lightning storm.

Lal Lal Wind Farm stretches across about 2100 hectares at Yendon and Elaine. Construction of the 60 massive wind turbines, which reach heights of more than 160m above ground, is forecast to be completed this month.

Information on the company’s website says there are integrated lightning protection systems fitted to the blades to ensure they can withstand a direct strike without serious damage.

“We can confirm that the turbine was struck by lightning however we still can’t comment on the root cause because we are still trying to determine it,” she said.

Ms Zhang said Worksafe had been notified.

The turbines at Lal Lal Wind Farm have also been fitted with Australian-first radar-activated aviation lights, which turn on when an aircraft comes within four to six kilometres.