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Crane collapse delays wind farm using giant GE turbines to sell power to Google

A crane collapse and harsh weather conditions have delayed construction of a Swedish wind farm using GE Renewable Energy’s largest onshore turbine platform that will sell its power to Google.

The collapse delayed installation work by a further three weeks at the 175MW Bjorkvattnet project almost 500km north of Stockholm, its developer confirmed.

Nobody was hurt in the incident in mid-January, which added to delays already incurred through Covid disruption that pushed installation into the “difficult winter months”, said Flemming Engelstoft, chief operating officer at WindSpace.

Bjorkvattnet is using GE’s 5.3MW Cypress turbines, and in September 2019 was one of the early projects to place an order for the US manufacturer’s new 5MW-plus machines.

The project – which is owned by private equity group InfraVia Capital Partners and was due in commercial service from the end of 2020 – signed a deal in 2019 to sell power to Google, which will use it to cover power consumption at its data centres in the region.

“The contractors are currently progressing at a slower rate, but are confident that the remaining turbines will be installed by May 2021,” said Engelstoft. Installation of 22 of the project’s 33 turbines has taken place by the time of the collapse.

The developer also confirmed the January collapse was the second crane-related incident at the site. A crane slid off the road and into a ditch last August, but Engelstoft said “damages to the equipment and the impact on construction schedule were less material” in that case.

A spokesperson for GE said: “There was a weather-related incident in January at the Bjorkvattnet wind farm in Sweden that impacted installation but did not cause any injuries. We are working closely with the wind farm owner to continue to install turbines at the site as quickly and safely as possible.”

Sweden and the wider Scandinavian region have become favoured destinations for huge wind projects in recent years, with corporate buyers such as Google and its fellow tech giants, along with heavy industrial firms, signing large deals for the output.

But conditions in the region have proved challenging, and some projects have attracted controversy – notably from indigenous reindeer herders who have bitterly opposed developments on their traditional lands in Norway and Sweden.