Saturday, August 25, 2007

Watch out for falling windmill fragments!

Sometimes you tilt at the windmills and sometimes the windmills tilt at you. From Der Spiegel:
[...] After the industry's recent boom years, wind power providers and experts are now concerned. The facilities may not be as reliable and durable as producers claim. Indeed, with thousands of mishaps, breakdowns and accidents having been reported in recent years, the difficulties seem to be mounting. Gearboxes hiding inside the casings perched on top of the towering masts have short shelf lives, often crapping out before even five years is up. In some cases, fractures form along the rotors, or even in the foundation, after only limited operation. Short circuits or overheated propellers have been known to cause fires. All this despite manufacturers' promises that the turbines would last at least 20 years.

Gearboxes have already had to be replaced "in large numbers," the German Insurance Association is now complaining. "In addition to generators and gearboxes, rotor blades also often display defects," a report on the technical shortcomings of wind turbines claims. The insurance companies are complaining of problems ranging from those caused by improper storage to dangerous cracks and fractures . . .

* In December of last year, fragments of a broken rotor blade landed on a road shortly before rush hour traffic near the city of Trier.

* Two wind turbines caught fire near Osnabr├╝ck and in the Havelland region in January. The firefighters could only watch: Their ladders were not tall enough to reach the burning casings.

* The same month, a 70-meter (230-foot) tall wind turbine folded in half in Schleswig-Holstein -- right next to a highway.

* The rotor blades of a wind turbine in Brandenburg ripped off at a height of 100 meters (328 feet). Fragments of the rotors stuck into a grain field near a road.[...]
Crossposted on Soccer Dad

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