A fire in a turbine at the Tararua Wind Farm in Manawatū that spewed black smoke on the skyline was left to burn itself.
Wind farm owners Mercury and on-site contractors Vestas have launched an investigation into what caused the rare incident on Wednesday afternoon.
Mercury general manager for generation Stewart Hamilton said the fire was contained to the turbine and no other structures, people or property were in danger.
Fire and Emergency services were called to the site, and with Vestas, made the decision not to tackle the fire that was burning 55 metres above the ground.
Helicopters were on stand-by, but were not needed. Access to the area was closed off.
Hamilton said the site was being assessed on Thursday, and a drone might be used to take a closer look at the damage.
It was too early to say exactly what part of the turbine components were on fire, or what had caused the blaze.
Five turbines on the same circuit as the damaged one had been closed down. The rest of the three-stage wind farm was able to continue operating.
Mercury only acquired the 134-turbine Tararua Wind Farm in August, but Vestas have been the operators on-site throughout its lifetime.
The turbine that caught fire was part of the 31-turbine third stage of the development.
It was a Vestas V90-3MW, commissioned in 2007, and at 14 years old, was well short of its 20-year design life.
Hamilton said Mercury was keen to find out what went wrong in what was an extremely rare event.
Mercury owned five wind farms around New Zealand, including three in Manawatū, with wind generation making up a key part of its renewable energy portfolio, Hamilton said.
Any lessons from the fire, from the cause to its management and the health and safety response, would be valuable for the operation of the other farms.
South of the Tararua wind farm, Mercury is half-way through building the 60-turbine, $465 million Turitea Wind Farm, where 15 turbines have been turned on to date.
Mercury’s generation development general manager Dennis Radich has earlier refused to disclose the cost of individual turbines on commercial grounds.
He explained much of the costs of building a wind farm related to civil engineering works, foundations and transmission lines. The turbines stood as the visible aspect of a complex network of supports.
Hamilton did not expect the fire investigation would divert any resources from construction or cause any delays at Turitea.
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