Report Identifies Fire as a Major Cause of Wind Turbine Failures
According to a study carried out by Imperial College, London and the University of Edinburgh of more than 200,000 wind turbines, nearly 120 turbine fires occur every year. This is ten times more often than previously thought.
Lightning strikes, the proximity of highly flammable materials such as hydraulic oil and plastics and faulty or overheating machinery, electrical wires, mechanical failures and maintenance errors are the main causes of fires in wind turbines, and the numerical discrepancy is believed to have come about by a failure to report 90 percent of wind turbine fires.
The report warns that fires tend to be “catastrophic” because the blazes occur in remote areas and so high up that they are almost impossible for firefighters to reach and extinguish. The report recommends a number of passive and active fire protection measures. These include the installation of comprehensive lightning protection systems, using non-combustible hydraulic and lubricant oils, and building heat barriers to protect combustible materials. Suggested active measures include smoke alarm systems and suppression measures to douse flames in water or foam.