Wind turbine catches fire during storm

Something in common with the Chevy Volt?

Bloomberg reports,

Infinis Plc, the renewables company owned by financier Guy Hands, said one of its wind turbines caught fire in “extreme stormy weather conditions” that caused most of Britain’s turbines to stop generating power.

The nacelle, the case containing the wind turbine’s power- generating components, caught fire yesterday at the Ardrossan wind farm in Ayrshire, Scotland, Infinis said in a statement late last night. The fire extinguished itself before firefighters arrived and no one was injured, Infinis said. The cause of the blaze is not yet known, the company said…

Wind speeds of as much as 165 miles per hour (265 kilometers per hour) were recorded yesterday in Scotland, the U.K.’s Met Office said.

Staff vacate wind farms when wind speeds exceed 55 mph and no one was present on site at the time, Infinis said. Scottish Power, the network operator, was notified and the site was disconnected from the electricity network…

4 thoughts on “Wind turbine catches fire during storm”

  1. I’ll concede that there are significant failures on other turbines. However, in this case, I believe that Milloy is being overzealous. When Ike came through Houston, while most stadium lights were fine, there were some that failed. Did we get up in arms about it? No, because it was a hurricane. In this situation, there was only one turbine that failed out of several. Most were fine.

    I’m not saying that we shouldn’t expect them to be properly designed, or that there wasn’t a failure (according to one report I read, they were shut down), nor will I disagree that other industries wouldn’t be kindly treated in this situation. However, we cannot demand 100% success in that kind of circumstance.

    With all the arguments and evidence of significant malfunction in wind farms, I think that we have no business spending time or effort publicizing this case, in which they have a decent reason why it failed.

  2. Wind turbines are, or should be, automatically shut down when winds exceed safe limits. There was clearly a design issue in this particular case. This is hardly the first fire in a turbine even under far less extreme conditions, never mind some structural failures. My company makes sports lighting and the poles and fixtures are designed to survive 200mph winds… we call that safety margin. I have seen large, metal utility poles toppled like tinker toys due to extreme icing conditions… as a reliability engineer I understand not every possible event can be anticipated/designed against. But we need to acknowledge that wind power is absolutely no safer, and perhaps much less safe from a personnel safety standpoint, than other forms of energy production. Economically, wind power makes no sense whatsoever – that follows from first principles of physics — but that is beside the point here. The precautionary principle that is so much a part of the environmental movement would suggest exactly what “ed gallagher” comments on… any other industry not a special government favorite and wind would be indicted based on the facts alone.

  3. I’m sorry, but I’ll have to disagree with you on this point. Almost nothing is built that can take Category 5 hurricane force winds for any period of time. 155 mph is C5. Even if that speed was only in quick gusts on the most exposed points, that’s at a minimum hurricane force. The damage in the area is extensive.

    http://www.yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk/news/latest-news/central-leeds/leeds_and_yorkshire_respite_after_hurricane_battering_updated_1_4040952

    We cannot expect the impossible, no matter how much it might agree with our preconceptions, and an exposed tower deliberately place to catch high winds withstanding a category 5 hurricane 100% of the time is impossible.

  4. Would it be fair to adopt an alarmist viewpoint and call for the shutdown of all wind turbines of that design until the the cause of the fire is determined and that 100% reassurance that it will never ever happen again?

    Oops, I’m sorry, that mentality is reserved for technology that encourages economic growth, not technology that helps ration energy.

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