Welcome to ActonBridge.Org Wind Power Failure Page

The UK's Department for Business, Enterprise & Regulatory Reform has asked us to update their (formerly DTI) link from this page ; and a Google search for 'vestas turbine failure' on the 'I'm Feeling Lucky' button now comes straight here - brilliant!

The very same BERR website carries a damning criticism of Vestas turbines off Blyth - read more below.

Reports of catastrophic failures (and general unreliability) of wind turbines

This page is part of our response to a proposal to build a wind 'farm' at Aston, on the opposite bank of the River Weaver from Acton Bridge in Cheshire. It collates some direct reports of serious problems with wind turbine installations, and has links to many others.

Update 12. August 2008 - Link to Caithness Wind Farm Information Forum's accidents page updated!

Talking of accidents, there have been several this year, including one in which a detached blade crashed through the roof of a farmhouse in Northern Ireland.

Yet another Vestas turbine has collapsed, this time on video! The Internet is full of links - try this one to see a Vestas turbine run out of control and "explode", despite the efforts of on-site Vestas engineers. The Register has more background comment (and the clip has already had over 400,000 viewings!). Apparently this is the second such incident in recent days. According to the Copenhagen Post (25.02.2008), "The climate minister, Connie Hedegaard, is calling for an investigation to determine the cause of two violent wind turbine collapses in Denmark in the past week. Both of the windmills were produced by Vestas, and Hedegaard's request to the Energy Board comes after other breakdowns both here and abroad have been reported in the past two months."

This is just the latest catastrophic news for Vestas, whose turbines would be used at Aston Grange, and who have been actively supporting Tegni's planning application. Perhaps they'll regret this now, in view of the bad publicity our website is generating for them! A huge number of energy industry visitors are coming to these pages - most recently British Energy, EDF Energy (in concert from two IP addresses), Innogy (part of RWE), and Vattenfall (searching in English for 'vestas+faces+criticism'). Oh, and Vestas themselves ('WIND+TURBINE+FAILURE' on 27. January - no need to SHOUT!).

Another Vestas turbine collapsed on 28. December, this time at Hesket Newmarket in Cumbria, less than two months after a similar incident in Scotland. Here's a report from WindAction.org - a search for 'hesket+newmarket+turbine' will bring up plenty more.

On 8. November 2007 another Vestas turbine collapsed, causing the site to be shut down. Shetland News reported on 13. November that "A 200 foot high Vestas V47 turbine was bent in half during storms at Scottish Power's 26 megawatt wind farm, at Beinn an Tuirc, in Argyll and Bute, last week. This site and two others owned by Scottish Power, in the Borders and Ayrshire, had their turbines shut down as a precaution until the cause of the problem is investigated fully by engineers".

This catastrophe was belatedly admitted on 19. November on Vestas's own website. Their press release states that the Health and Safety Executive "has suggested that some precautionary measures are implemented on Vestas’ [sic] V47 and V52 turbines, e.g. turbine max. speed pause [? 'stophastighed' in Danish] to be adjusted from 25 m/s to 15 m/s".

Click to read about the many visitors who are finding these web pages when searching for Vestas problems, or go to our main Aston Grange page.

The incident has been widely reported in the media (pictures used with acknowledgement)...
Wind Action reported, "Three Scottish windfarms were "switched off" yesterday after a massive turbine collapsed in high winds. The machine, which stands more than 200ft tall at a windfarm in Argyll, apparently "bent in half" during the storm conditions that swept Scotland on Thursday. Operator Scottish Power stopped the 26-turbine facility ahead of a probe into the cause of the collapse. The energy giant also switched off two windfarms in the south of Scotland which use the same Vestas V47 turbines." Vestas broken copyright WindAction
Vestas broken copyright Campbeltown Courier The Campbeltown Courier reported that in "what has been described as ‘a catastrophic failure’ of the turbine, the tower section has folded in the middle smashing the blades and nacelle into the hillside. It is thought by those in the industry that this is the first time a turbine tower has ever collapsed in the UK and Vestas Celtic, which manufactures towers at its nearby Kintyre factory and Scottish Power owners of the farm have launched an inquiry to find out what went wrong with the Vestas V47 turbine. [...] A member of The Courier staff was ordered to leave the site by a Scottish Power representative."

As with some other spectacular wind turbine failures, the wind speeds in question were by no means extreme. According to the Campbeltown Courier, the Meteorological Office weather readings at Machrihanish [the nearby aerodrome] show wind levels at only 34 mph [about 15 m/s, exactly the optimal design speed of the V47 turbine] and gusts up to 55mph [25 m/s, the safety 'stop' speed of the V47] with a north westerly direction.

In Vestas's home country of Denmark, Mediehuset Ingeniøren A/S reported the failure thus...

"Vestas efterforsker årsag til møllekollaps"
"Elselskabet Scottish Power og Vestas er sparsomme med oplysninger om den efterforskning, der i øjeblikket foregår for at afklare, hvorfor en 61 meter høj vindmølle kollapsede i torsdags. »Vi ser på strukturelle ting,« lyder meldingen."

Charmingly, the Danish for 'broken' is 'knækkede'.

The Vestas V90 turbines proposed for Aston Grange would be twice this size, with four times the swept area, and among the largest ever attempted in the UK. What's more, unlike the wilds of Shetland, the Aston site is surrounded by houses, lanes and the West Coast Main Line Railway!

In a damning report on the inefficiency of the flagship Scroby Sands offshore windfarm, prepared by E.ON UK and published by the DTI (now the Department for Business, Enterprise & Regulatory Reform), the Vestas V80 turbines come in for particular criticism. The site is off the coast of Norfolk, and the 30 V80 2MW turbines were manufactured and installed by Vestas during 2004. Despite a capital grant of £10M from the UK taxpayer, the site produced significantly less energy than budget, and there were multiple failures of gearbox bearings. The report states that 27 generator side intermediate speed shaft bearings and 12 high speed shaft bearings have had to be replaced, together with four generators. You can download the full report (494kB PDF) from the BERR website (link updated by e-mail from the Department for Business, Enterprise & Regulatory Reform, 26/11/2007).

The same BERR carries critical reports of the Vestas installation off Blyth in Northumberland - see the BERR website for the full report, which concludes that "The turbines have suffered from poor availability for the first three years. This has been due to several causes, but mainly due to inadequate testing of the prototype to this design. A major design review was carried out across this series of machines and a retrofit programme carried out. The retrofit programme appears to have resolved the availability issue. The performance of the turbines when operating has matched the specification. The wind farm has also suffered a cable fault due to installation deficiencies and a lightning strike which destroyed a blade".

A correspondent alerted us to a recent BBC report of a fire in a Vestas machine at the Nissan car plant in Sunderland late last year.

"Tuesday, 31 January 2006, 11:06 GMT
"Wind turbines are again producing power at the giant Nissan car plant on Wearside, a month after one of the six machines burst into flames.
"Eight fire crews attended the Sunderland car plant after fire broke out on one of the 167ft (51m) Danish-built turbines on 23 December".

Click news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/wear/4665288.stm to see the original story and a dramatic photo.

Our website was visited, not for the first time, by Tegni's German owner, and also by Vestas A/S during the week of 26. September 2005. Interestingly, Vestas were searching google.dk for "wind+turbine+failure". A side-effect of our on-line campaign against the Aston Grange planning application will be that many visitors find out from this page about the unreliability, and even catastrophic failure, of Vestas turbines. Indeed, Tegni themselves admitted at our public meeting that our website was their own primary source for such information! We're delighted to be of service.

Back to main wind 'farm' page.

From Modern Power Systems magazine on-line (with acknowledgements to Wilmington Publishing - our emphasis and [comments])...

"Horns Rev runs into generator...
"06 April 2005
"Operator Elsam is hoping to have all 80 turbines at its Horns Rev offshore wind farm [off the west coast of Denmark] up and running by the autumn following several months of repairs dealing with defective transformers and generators. For some time there have been technical problems with the [Vestas] V80 2MW-rated turbines at the site, causing them to run at below design output, which made operation of the site impossible to sustain. Twenty turbines are currently down for repairs; the remaining sixty will be assessed and repaired during the remainder of the summer".

Read on...

From www.modernpowersystems.com/story.asp?storyCode=2018094

"Bending with the wind
"05 November 2002

"The Horns Rev offshore wind farm development was shut down on 4 November when a test wind turbine of the type being used in the project suffered damage owing to the failure of a safety system. The unit in question was a Vestas V80-2.0 MW offshore unit located at Tjæreborg, Denmark. All damage was confined to the turbine blades. But it was the second turbine failure due to overspeed in just a few days, the other occurring on a Nordex site in Norway. Both were caused by human interference in control systems, and have serious implications for how testing and service procedures are currently carried out, and how they should be".

[Human interference in control systems was, of course, responsible for the Chernobyl disaster].

"In relatively low speed wind (10 m/s), a failure occurred in the control system causing the turbine to over-speed. The safety system that has to stop the turbine in such a situation failed. However, the turbine's secondary emergency system cut in and stopped the rotor.
"Despite Vestas's confidence about recurrences, the Nordex event, a remarkably similar accident - similar, that is, in cause, not outcome - had happened only a few days before, but to a turbine sited at the Arctic Wind site near Havöygavlen, Norway. It occurred on October 29 and the mechanical damage was far more extensive. It also was an overspeed accident, in 15 m/s wind, with the rotor getting up to 44 rpm (tip speed 663 km/h [over 400 mph]) before catastrophic failure occurred and the entire nacelle with its rotor was ripped from the tower".

Modern Power Systems © 2005
Published by Wilmington Publishing Ltd.

[Our Note : these were by no means exceptional circumstances. 15 m/s (about 33 mph) is exactly the nominal (i.e. design) speed for the Vestas V80-2.0 MW wind turbine, and its quoted "stop" speed is 25 m/s. According to Vestas the V80 nacelle weighs 61 tonnes, and the rotor assembly weighs 34 tonnes. Vestas's own report of the incident is here].

So, how would you like to have 95 tonnes of nacelle, rotor, hub, blades, generator and other heavy machinery landing on your house? The Aston Grange generators would be V90 models, 50% more powerful and much taller than the V80. If you lived, travelled or simply wanted to take a walk near the proposed Aston site you would, to paraphrase Clint Eastwood, have to ask yourself one thing...    "...do I feel lucky today?". Well, do you?

Several websites collate problems with wind turbines, and it seems that accidents (including fatal ones) receive remarkably little publicity in the general media.

Caithness Wind Farm Information Forum has a huge .pdf (adobe reader required) collating several years of accidents and failures including the two above - since this is regularly updated, it's best to click on the obvious link on their homepage.

Bundesweite Datenbank Der Windrad - Unfälle reports (in German - "nationwide databank of wind turbine accidents") mainly from Germany, with many links to photos.

An Ill Wind (Ireland) campaign against wind farms includes details of failures, such as:
- "At Cemmaes, Wales, in 1993, a blade broke and parts of it were flung 400m".
- "At Llangwyryfon, Wales, a whole blade became detached and planed for nearly 500 m. An internal investigation took place, but the results were not made public".

Industrial Wind Action Group news pages, can be searched for safety and other issues.

More such news will be added as it becomes known to us.

Go to our Aston FAQ page, links and media page or back to main wind 'farm' page.

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