ScottishPower Renewables Wind farm shut over safety fears after 150ft turbine blade falls off

By stoplenchwickwindfarm | March 24, 2010


Wind farm shut over safety fears after 150ft turbine blade falls off

Mar 23 2010 Exclusive by Ben Spencer @ – The Daily Record

Broken turbine at Whitelee Wind Farm Image 1

Broken turbine at Whitelee Wind Farm

EUROPE’S largest wind farm ground to a halt after a 150ft blade snapped off one of the turbines.

All 140 of the giant machines were immediately shut down at the £300million development near Glasgow until they could be inspected.

Engineers at Whitelee wind farm, which is run by ScottishPower Renewables, were trying to work out why the blade came crashing down.

They are looking into whether lightning could have struck the turbine or if it was caused by a mechanical problem.

It sheared off and hit the ground in the early hours of Friday morning in blustery conditions.

Automatic systems alerted operators in the control room to the damage and they immediately closed down the unit.

All 420 blades in the wind farm were being examined following the accident.

Last night, more than 50 turbines were expected to have been inspected and safely returned to operation.

The process is expected to be completed by Friday.

Whitelee wind farm’s visitor centre, which is managed by Glasgow Science Centre and had been due to reopen after the winter break yesterday, stayed shut.

German company Siemens, who supplied the turbines, are also understood to be investigating.

The 360ft turbines are so massive that engineers have been able to climb inside them to try to detect the problem.

Over the weekend, the site at Eaglesham Moor, 13 miles from Glasgow city centre, was cordoned off to keep visitors away. Raymond Toms, 45, a teacher from East Kilbride, spotted the broken turbine as he cycled past on Sunday.

He said: "I was out for a bike ride and I saw one of the massive blades had broken clean off. It was quite unnerving really.

"You can walk right up to these things normally and touch them.

"The public have access to the network of pathways nearby.

"I have grave concerns over the safety of the public, who can walk right up to the turbines.

"It’s worrying that if one of these could fall off then perhaps another one could.

Whitelee Wind Farm Image 3

"It’s made me think about going too close, that’s for sure. It’s just lucky this took place at night, when nobody was around."

Keith Anderson, managing director of ScottishPower Renewables, said: "This type of incident is exceptionally rare and highly unusual.

"However, the safety of our people and the public is our first priority.

"While the investigation into the cause of the incident is ongoing, our engineers continue to conduct an internal and external examination of all turbine blades at the wind farm".

A spokesman for the firm added: "Investigations are ongoing, and a number of possibilities including mechanical failure and lightning strike are being considered.

"Operators in the 24-hour control room immediately closed the turbine down.

"This is a highly unusual situation. I’ve not heard of this kind of incident happening in 30 years."


Last week, it was revealed that community groups in East Renfrewshire are to benefit from a fund set up from the development of Whitelee.

The fund will deliver about £140,000 a year for the next 25 years to the area’s council for local groups.


Borderer24 wrote:

The Scottish Power spokesman must have had his head in the sand if he is is really claiming that, "I’ve not heard of this kind of incident happening in 30 years."
Turbines shed blades and experience them delaminating and breaking up with monotonous regularity, all over the world.
In the UK there have been numerous examples. I have read of accidents at Crystal Rig (2005), Oldside (2006), Blyth Offshore, Conisholme (2009), Sheffield University (2009) and many, many more.
It has even happened twice at one windfarm in Cornwall, in 1993 and 2006. There have also been a good few turbine collapses and turbine fires. Examples of turbines being shut down with blade problems prior to them coming apart are even more common.
A Dutch company whose core business is blade repair admits that, "Rotor blade lightning damage is a common problem" (NGup Rotor Blades).
See the Caithness Windfarm Information Forum for a ‘Summary of Wind Turbine Accident data’ to 31 December 2009.

Borderer24 wrote:

The Telegraph, 10 Oct 2009.
"A blade on a wind turbine in Sheffield has broken in strong winds for the second time in 15 months."

Other instances show blades/parts of blades can travel hundreds of metres:

"Brieske [Brandenburg, Germany], 3 July 2009. Lightning strike caused the catastrophic break up of a 40m turbine blade. Large pieces of blade flew for about 150 meters, landing about 50 meters from federal highway 169."

"Sidinge, in Denmark, sent a blade flying more than 300ft before it hit the ground."

"A 19 metre piece of the wing was thrown 200 metres away." Witness to catastrophic break up of blade and collapse of turbine tower in Denmark (Live Leak video no. 1203701257).

Allegheny Ridge Wind Farm. Blade break up: " 140 feet long, about 14 feet wide and weighing about 7 tons, according to the company."
"It’s something the size of a yacht flying through the air," […] One piece was thrown more than 500 feet before coming down through the trees."

23/3/2010 4:48 PM GMT on


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