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Third crane accident hits project installing giant GE wind turbines to power Google

A third crane accident has hit a project to install GE Renewable Energy’s largest onshore turbine platform at a Swedish wind farm that will supply Google.

No one was hurt in the latest incident at the 175MW Bjorkvattnet project almost 500km north of Stockholm, its developer told Recharge.

The early April accident follows the collapse of a large crane amid severe weather in January that added to Covid-related delays at Bjorkvattnet, which 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.

Flemming Engelstoft, chief operating officer at WindSpace, which is leading development of the project told Recharge: “While on transit from one crane pad to another turbine, an auxiliary crane overturned. No one was hurt. The crane operator was alerted of certain crane components rotating. He was able to stop the crane and get out of the cabin. The crane slowly tipped over on its left side into the snow bank.

“Compared to the previous crane accident, this incident involved a smaller crane and is not blocking any construction traffic on site. The impact on the construction plan is fairly minimal.”

WindSpace said after the January incident that it aimed to install all 33 of the project turbines by May after a construction schedule that has faced continual weather challenges.

The latest incident is the third related to crane operations 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 than in January.