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WA wind turbine collapse linked to a crack in the steel tower 

Credit:  Sophie Vorrath, 7 October 2022, reneweconomy.com.au ~~

A wind turbine collapse that caused the temporary shut down of the 89MW Walkaway wind farm in Western Australia looks to have been caused by a crack in the tower.

Iberdrola Australia – the owner of the 54-turbine wind farm, which has been in operation since 2006 – reported the incident in mid-June, in which a turbine tower buckled in half and fell into a canola field.

At the time, the wind farm – also known as the Alinta wind farm – was shut down “out of an abundance of caution,” while Iberdrola worked with the project’s operations and maintenance contractor, Vestas, to check the other turbines.

An incident management committee, led by Iberdrola Australia managing director and CEO Ross Rolfe was established and a “root cause” investigation into the turbine tumble was launched.

The wind farm resumed production roughly a month later, but at reduced output levels.

A crack in the steel

In a statement on Friday to the Geraldton Guardian, an Iberdrola spokesperson said early evidence from the investigation suggested the cause of the incident was a crack in the turbine tower’s steel tower.

“Although the root cause analysis is yet to be finalised, we believe [this was the] cause of the failure,” the spokesperson told the newspaper.

“The entire plant has been inspected internally and externally, including detailed analysis of the steel towers.

“Today, the wind farm is operating at near-full capacity and the failed turbine has been dismantled and removed. Four turbines require repairs before they can be returned to service, which will be carried out soon.”

Wind turbine safety

The Walkaway incident also triggered a review at other wind farms using the same Vestas model turbines – B82 1.65MW, installed in 2006.

The Emu Downs wind farm, also in the same region of Western Australia, is using the same turbine model, but appears to be operating normally. The latest generation of wind turbines being installed by Vestas in Australia are more than three times bigger in terms of capacity.

Previous wind turbine malfunctions in Australia include in 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.

Source:  Sophie Vorrath, 7 October 2022, reneweconomy.com.au

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

The copyright of this article resides with the author or publisher indicated. As part of its noncommercial educational effort to present the environmental, social, scientific, and economic issues of large-scale wind power development to a global audience seeking such information, National Wind Watch endeavors to observe “fair use” as provided for in section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law and similar “fair dealing” provisions of the copyright laws of other nations. Send requests to excerpt, general inquiries, and comments via e-mail.

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