QUALITY ALERT: Wind Turbine collapses in Northern Ireland !

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On the 2nd of January 2015, a 80-metre wind turbine has collapsed in Northern Ireland.

The turbine was one of 8 on the Screggagh wind farm on Murley mountain near Fintona in County Tyrone of Northern Ireland.

People in the industry said this was a very unusual incident because the winds were light at the time and it is still not clear what caused the massive structure to collapse.

Fortunately there are no reported injuries but people in the area said the rotor blades were spinning out of control on the evening the turbine buckled.

The turbine that comes from Germany and it is valued at over £500,000, collapsed on Friday 9pm, scattering debris over a wide area but fortunately no debris went to the public road or other areas. The park was commissioned in April 2011 and whole farm between Fintona and Fivemiletown includes eight Nordex N80 turbines each weighing approximately 52 tons.

Unconfirmed reports say that locals heard the turbine producing increasingly loud noise throughout Friday, culminating in a huge bang heard right across the area.

It is understood the rotor blades spun out of control during Friday and the sound of the mechanical structure crashing to the ground could be heard up to seven miles away.

Some people said the sound was like thunder. Others report grinding and the sound of metal against metal.

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The remaining seven turbines have been shut down while manufacturers investigate what went wrong.

Doreen Walker, director of Screggagh Windfarm Ltd, said:

“There were fortunately no injuries and no personnel on site at the time. 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.”

She also said officials were “working closely” with Nordex UK, the supplier of the wind farm turbines, to ensure the site is safe.

“A further statement will be made once the investigation has been completed and the reasons for the failure confirmed,” she added.

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German manufacturer Nordex is currently delivering a new, even bigger turbine design for other sites in the UK.

 QIC Opinion:  This is one more strange quality failure following this one in London recently. Again, it is really difficult to estimate what went wrong but we dare to say that we have a material failure from (probably) fatigue and/or additional loads on the structure. The reason  is unknown but the rotors that were  spinning out of control obviously caused instability to the whole structure and added loads that were not predicted in the design. The main question now is why nobody noticed the failing rotor blades before  the collapse, so that the turbine could be shut down and prevent this collapse. Regarding the root cause, all the remaining turbines must now be checked so that such incidents could be avoided in the future.

What’s your opinion?

Sources: BBCIndependentUlsterheraldTelegraph

All photos credits from the sources above.

  • VC

    A decent vibration monitoring system should have identified the developing pre-conditions for potential failure and caused the vanes to feather to neutral.

  • Simone Mauri

    It is quite possibile that such system has reached high vibration at his critical frequency. Natural consequencies of what above is a materiale collapse. PA could be estimate such frequency for the other Wind turbine by an hammer test (and of course with proper instrumentation)

  • Andrew Swann

    I don’t know much about wind turbines but if I was to have a complete GUESS I would say the root cause and the “increasingly loud noise” that was heard was possibly a bearing failing and the “loud bang” along with the “metal on metal” grinding sound was the result of it finally failing. I would imagine this is what caused the blades to spin uncontrollably which caused the instability and added loads as mentioned in the “QIC Opinion” section of the article.