Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Opinion

February 28, 2014

Feb. 28, 2014: Letters to the editor

Blade break fitswith incident studies

I find it interesting that after the recent wind turbine blade failure in Tipton, E.ON spokesman Elon Hasson was quoted in the Kokomo Tribune as “such failures are rare” and a GE issued statement included, “Blade breaks in wind turbines are rare.”

It is odd that what the wind industry continues to call rare seems to happen with awful regularity. As I write this, just hours ago in Pennsylvania, another blade snapped in half at the EverPower-owned turbine farm near Dunlo in Adams Township.

A quick search of news articles shows four blade failures of GE 1.6-100 model turbines in eight months. This does not include the recent blade failure in the Wildcat Wind Farm in Tipton and there probably are more that I did not find.

March 11, 2013: A blade broke in half at DTE’s Thumb Wind Park in March.

Nov 7, 2013: A blade snapped in half and fell to the ground at DTE Energy’s Echo project in Michigan while a newly installed turbine was being commissioned.

Nov 17, 2013: A blade sheared off on the fifth day of commissioning of “turbine 34” at Invenergy’s Orangeville wind farm in New York state.

Nov 20, 2013: A broken blade at Invenergy’s California Ridge project in Illinois, which was commissioned in 2012, was linked to extreme weather.

Tipton County Citizens for Responsible Development has always cited reputable studies when discussing the reliability of wind turbines. According to “Permitting Setbacks for Wind Turbines in California and the Blade Throw Hazard” by Scott Larwood of California Wind Energy Collaborative University of California, Davis, “The available documentation shows blade failure probability in the 1-in-100 to 1-in-1,000 per turbine per year range. There is no indication of improvement of this statistic with new technology.”

Another study, “Reliability performance and maintenance — A survey of failures in wind power systems” by Johan Ribrant that reviewed actual failure data from wind turbines in Sweden, Finland and Germany concluded even higher blade failure rates.

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