Print RSS

Risk is on the Wind

Periodic commentary about the wind energy industry, focusing on news of interest involving wind turbines, wind farms, wind energy projects as well as associated technology and social/political issues. Brought to you by Valentine, your source for superior insurance for wind turbines and wind farms worldwide.

Wind Turbines and Hurricanes

Viktor Lawryniuk - Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Do They Play Well Together?

The recent path of Hurricane Irene through the northeast United States blew over or near at least six wind turbine sites. How did the turbines fare? Pretty well it turns out.

The folks at the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy published a report on their website with detail from each site on how they dealt with the situation and what happened. The range of responses was interesting. The University of Delaware has one 2MW Gamesa turbine which they hooked-up to a diesel generator to power the active yaw controls that keep it facing into the winds in case the grid went down. (Grid goes down they don’t send or receive power, hence the generator.)

I was surprised to read that the ACUA Jersey Atlantic wind farm with its five GE turbines was a tourist attraction! They even have a webcam trained on some turbines! ACUA reported their turbines were designed to withstand anticipated winds so they merely shut down and did not remove and store the blades.

The 660kW Vestas turbine at Portsmouth Abbey School shut down when the grid did. According to their website, “The turbine generates wind up to 55 mph, then pitches the blades to 90-degree angles and waits for the wind to subside to 45 mph before starting to turn again.”

You can read the rest of the reports here. So far this year neither hurricanes nor earthquakes do more than temporarily shut down wind turbines. Good to know.

Human fallibility

Viktor Lawryniuk - Friday, May 14, 2010
Humans are fallible and machines are made by multiple humans, does that make machines less fallible or more?  My impression is that the  technology I work with has trended towards increased reliability over time yet when things do go wrong they seem to go very wrong.  How many offshore oil rigs have been drilling for how many years before finally we had a catastrophic failure in the Gulf of Mexico?  BP, Transocean and Halliburton all blame each other.  Government oversight was notable for its oversight (as you would expect when regulatory agencies get captured by the regulated). 

We as a civilization need to get much better at managing complexity because the future isn't getting any simpler!