GreenWeek Volume 24, November 22

By subscription only Jobs under threat Cameron warned 10,000 people could be out of work if green levies are cut P2 Product news Our round-up of the latest and greatest green gadgets and innovation P6 Expert opinion Why, despite furious debate, we’ve got it all wrong on ECO P10 GreenWeek ClickGreen’s review of all the week’s news, views, research and analysis with a focus on low carbon and sustainability Volume 24: Nov 22, 2013 Exclusive: UK wind farms put on alert as GE suffers blade crisis Spate of failures in US raises serious concerns about identical models here By Stuart Qualtrough ind turbine GE has W con?rmed itmakerlaunched has a “thorough investigation” into one of its ?agship models after a series of blade failures. The latest mechanical breakdowns occurred last week when 48.7m-long blades fell off TWO separate GE 1.6-100 wind turbines at different locations in the US in the space of just four days. A third blade failure was reported the previous week at another wind farm and now GE customers in the UK are being contacted with news of the investigation. The company has installed over 20,000 wind turbines worldwide and has received several orders for the high performance 1.6-100 turbine in the UK. To date, GE has supplied or is under contract to supply more than 163.10MWs of wind turbines to the UK. Fears of a ?aw in the huge structures could be costly to the company and heighten public safety concerns. When Siemens launched a similar safety probe earlier this year into two broken blades on its B53 turbine it triggered a slump in sales and cost the head of its wind division his job. Connecticut-headquartered GE has been quick to act and says it will work with its customers directly to resolve the ongoing issues. Earlier this month, construction giant John Laing con?rmed it had One of the three stricken GE wind turbines last week placed an order for nine of the 1.6MW wind turbines to install at its Burton Wold wind farm extension project in Kettering. At the time of the announcement, Ross McArthur, managing director of renewable energy at John Laing, said: “GE’s 1.6-100 wind turbines are the right machines for the Burton Wold wind farm extension due to their ability to enhance energy ef?ciency.” But this week, when asked if GE had noti?ed the company of its safety investigation into blade failures, a spokeswoman for John Laing told GreenWeek: “This is not a subject we would want to comment on.” The ?rst of last week’s incidents happened last Sunday when one of the three glass-?bre reinforced blades fell off the 80m-high tower at a wind farm in New York state. According to local reports, the failure occurred while the turbine We are actively reaching out to our customer base ... at times equipment malfunctions occur Lindsay Theile, GE spokesperson was operating in moderate weather conditions and just four days after being commissioned at the Invenergy-operated installation in Orangeville. And on Wednesday, another GEmanufactured turbine blade broke off at a wind farm in East Central Illinois – the same location had previously suffered two further blade failures. All three blades were on 1.6MW turbines. The 1.6-100 model turbine was already under scrutiny after another two recent blade failures at separate wind farms in Michigan, one at the beginning of November and another in March. GE spokesperson Lindsay Theile con?rmed the events all involved the company’s 48.7m blade and all its customers were now being contacted. She told GreenWeek: “With any customer event, our process is to work with our customer and assign a team to perform a thorough investigation. “Since each break is currently being investigated, we cannot speculate as to whether or not the breaks are related. “We are actively reaching out to our customer base. Blade breaks in wind turbines are rare, however, as with any industrial business, at times equipment malfunctions occur. It’s our goal to perform thorough root cause analyses, take appropriate corrective action and bring the turbines back online as soon as possible.”