A 328ft tall wind turbine has mysteriously collapsed at a wind farm in Northern Ireland, despite wind speeds not being more than a medium 10 to 12 metres per second (22 to 27 miles per hour). The wind farm, home to eight turbines, has been shut down until the cause of the collapse can be ascertained.
Unconfirmed reports have suggested that the turbine, located at the Screggagh wind farm, on a mountain near Fintona in County Tyrone, was spinning out of control during the day despite wind speeds being mild. Others have reported the sound of grinding metal throughout the day. What is known is that on Friday night the turbine collapsed, buckling 90 degrees near the base.
Locals claim the sound of the turbine hitting the mountain could be heard up to seven miles away, according to the Telegraph, some saying it sounded like an explosion. Thankfully no-one was injured, although debris was scattered far across the mountainside.
Doreen Walker, director of Screggagh Windfarm Ltd, said: “There were fortunately no injuries and no personnel on site at the time,” adding “We are currently investigating the circumstances that led to the collapse of the turbine at Screggagh wind farm. We are however satisfied that the site’s precautionary health and safety alert processes worked well with local emergency services in attendance within minutes of the incident taking place.”
Walker said that officials were “working closely” with Nordex UK, who had supplied the turbines, to ensure the safety of the site, adding “A further statement will be made once the investigation has been completed and the reasons for the failure confirmed.”
The turbine is one of eight at the Screggagh site, contstructed at a total cost of £26million in 2011, implying a per turbine project cost of over £3million. The turbines themselves are understood to comprise the bulk of the cost, at more than £2million each.
According to the sites owners, each turbine is 200 feet tall, with the rotor blades spanning a diameter of more than 260 feet, giving a total height from base to tip of 328 feet. They each have a nominal power-generating capacity of 2.5 megawatts.
This is not the first time that faults have become apparent with Nordex turbines. In September 2013, an eight-year-old Nordex turbine in a German wind farm reportedly caught fire. The German manufacturing company is currently delivering bigger turbines for other British sites.
Chris Streatfield, director of health and safety for wind industry body RenewableUK, said: “A thorough investigation is already underway into what happened in this extremely rare incident. The wind industry takes health and safety issues very seriously, and the lessons learned from this will be implemented as swiftly as possible. No member of the public has ever been injured by wind turbine operating in the UK.”