A wind turbine has collapsed at the Alinta wind farm in Western Australia, buckling in half and falling into a canola field, and causing the 89MW project to be temporarily shut down.
Iberdrola Australia – the owner of the 54-turbine wind farm, which has been in operation since 2006 – says it became aware of a major failure early on Thursday morning. Then, at around 8:30am WA time, Turbine 43 collapsed.
“The collapse occurred on private agricultural land,” a company statement says. “There were no injuries to people and no known injuries to wildlife.
“At this stage it appears that private property damage is limited to a fence dividing two paddocks along with a portion of a recently planted Canola crop.”
Iberdrola says the area has been secured and the wind farm shut down “out of an abundance of caution,” while it works with the project’s operations and maintenance contractor, Vestas, to find out what went wrong and check on the other turbines.
An incident management committee, led by Iberdrola Australia managing director and CEO Ross Rolfe has been established to manage any further risks or issues that arise.
“The failure of Turbine 43 at Alinta Wind Farm is a serious event,” said Rolfe on Thursday.
“We are currently working closely with regulatory bodies and the operations and maintenance contractor, Vestas, to understand the factors that have contributed to the failure of the turbine.
“The safety and wellbeing of our communities and our people will always be our first priority. At the proper time, the learnings from the investigation will be shared with industry to promote safe operations across Australia’s large and growing fleet of wind farms,” Rolfe said.
The turbine failure marks the first major wind turbine malfunction in Australia since late 2020, when a newly installed turbine at Tilt Renewables’ Dundonnell wind farm, in Victoria, dropped a 73 metre, 15 tonne blade – investigations later put this down to bolts becoming loose.
A Vestas turbine blade fall – in that case caused by a lightning strike – was also recorded at the Lal Lal wind farm, also in Victoria, in 2019.
Vestas has seen similar turbine incidents to the Alinta collapse overseas, however, including in November of 2020 when a 230 metres tall turbine tower collapsed at a project site in northern Sweden, after buckling part of the way up its tower.
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