Five times when wind turbines tumbled

Wind turbine collapse at Pant-Y-Wal Wind Farm in Wales, UK
Downed turbine at Pant-Y-Wal in Wales, UK

There must be something in the air—no pun intended—because in the space of a week three wind turbine collapses were recorded and are being investigated by their respective owner-operators.

It’s important to note that energy sources of all kinds are prone to mechanical and structural failure for myriad reasons, but towering wind turbine failures tend to be that much more compelling given their size and might.

Here, we look at five wind turbine collapses around the world.

Related article: Wind turbine collapses at Alinta Wind Farm

Alinta Wind Farm, WA, Australia

Image: Iberdrola Australia

On June 8, 2022, wind turbine #43 collapsed on private agricultural land at Alinta Wind Farm, 35km south-east of Geraldton in Western Australia last week.

Owner Iberdrola Australia said, “At around 8:30am Western Australia time, Turbine 43 collapsed. The collapse occurred on private agricultural land. 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.”

“The local landholders and their representatives were promptly notified. Out of an abundance of caution, the area has been secured, the wind farm has been shut down, and we are currently working with the operations and maintenance contractor, Vestas, to determine the cause of the failure,” a spokesperson said.

Maverick Wind Farm, Oklahoma, USA

Image: Enid News & Eagle

Authorities in the US state Oklahoma are investing the what caused a wind turbine to collapse at Maverick Wind Farm in Major County on June 21, 2022.

Ames Fire Chief Mike Willey said a resident who lives about a mile away from where the turbine stood heard a thud, looked over and saw the downed turbine and reported it. There was no fire, and firefighters contained the scene while waiting for company representative to respond, which they did in about half an hour, Willey said.

Wind farm owner Invenergy directed questions about the turbine to Public Service Company of Oklahoma (PSO). No injuries were reported from the downed turbine, PSO spokesperson Wayne Greene said in an email Tuesday afternoon.

“Engineers and safety team members will thoroughly assess the situation in coordination with local officials,” Greene said.

Niyol Wind Project, Colorado, USA

Image: Haley Harms/9News

Florida-based NextEra Energy Resources is working to determine what caused a turbine to collapse on June 22, 2022, at its six-month-old wind farm on the Eastern Plains in Colorado, USA.

Images from the wind farm near Fleming in Logan County show one of its 74 GE wind turbines appeared to have bent in half and crashed to the ground.

“We believe this was an isolated incident and the cause is under investigation. The remainder of the wind farm is operating normally,” NextEra Energy Resources spokesperson Steve Stengel told local news sources.

Stengel said no one was hurt and that crews would eventually remove and replace the broken turbine.

Pant-y-Wal Wind Farm, Wales, UK

Image: Gerald Keogh/BBC News

An investigation has been launched after a 115m wind turbine manufactured by Nordex collapsed on February 14, 2022, at Pant-Y-Wal Wind Farm in Wales.

People who live nearby said they heard a noise like thunder and a loud bang as the turbine fell in Gilfach Goch, Rhondda Cynon Taf.

The giant turbine is one of 29 at the Pant-y-Wal wind farm overlooking the village.

“No persons were injured. The only material damage that has occurred as a result of the incident is to the turbine itself,” a spokesperson said.

“A team of local Nordex specialists with experts from Nordex main office are currently investigating the root cause of the incident together with the wind farm owner. As yet, no reliable statement can be made as to the underlying cause of the collapse.”

Bow Lake Wind Farm, Ontario, Canada

Image: SooToday

Related article: End-of-life plan needed for wind turbine blades, study says

On August 28, 2021, a turbine at BluEarth Renewables’ Bow Lake Wind Facility north of Sault Ste. Marie was severely damaged, causing it to fall to the ground.

A spokesperson for BluEarth said no one was in the vicinity of the turbine when the incident occurred, and that local authorities and regulatory agencies were immediately notified. 

“BluEarth is taking this very seriously and the company’s focus is on responding to the incident and ensuring the safety of the public and the environment,” read a statement issued by BluEarth the following day.

“The location has been secured and BluEarth requests that no members of the community attempt to access the location. BluEarth will initiate a full investigation into the cause of the incident.”

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