More problems have emerged at the massive new Dundonnell wind farm in Victoria, which has stopped production after a 73 metre, 70 tonne blade fell off one of the project’s 80 newly installed Vestas turbines.
The incident on October 5 – which occurred around 7.30pm on Monday night on a turbine that was operating at the time – quickly brought production at all turbines at the Dundonnell wind farm to a halt.
The facility has been operating at less than half of its rated 336MW capacity because of constraints imposed by the Australian Energy Market Operator due to unspecified commissioning issues.
In a statement, project owner Tilt Renewables said “a single blade separated from the hub of a turbine and fell to the ground. There were no injuries caused by the incident and there is no damage to any other property or wind turbines to report.”
The v150 blades are 73 metres long and weigh about 15 tonnes. They are attached to the turbine hub at a height of around 115 metres.
Tilt went on to say that all wind turbines at the site are currently removed from service whilst an investigation and assessment of the damage is undertaken.
“A root cause analysis will be completed in conjunction with the wind turbine manufacturer, Vestas, which will inform the assurance process on the other turbines prior to these being returned to service,” it said.
“Appropriate commercial and contractual provisions are in place to mitigate the effects of an incident of this nature and at this time it is not expected to materially impact the business.”
Tilt Renewables has already foreshadowed a significant reduction in earnings for the current financial year due to the delays in commissioning Dundonnell, which it had hoped would be fully operational by now.
Just over a week ago, Tilt had announced that the project had been allowed to use all its 80 turbines, and move to a new “hold point” of 150MW. It said then it was confident of reaching full capacity by the end of the calendar year.
Nearby resident and prominent wind energy critic Hamish Cumming, who supplied the above photo, said in an email to RenewEconomy that there had been questions about whether the blades had been fatigue tested.
“Others will follow if it is the fatigue issue. This is also a work cover issue for farmers,” he said. Tilt says that claim is nonsense and the turbines are fully compliant and fully tested. Its certification can be found here.
It is not the first time a blade has fallen from a Vestas turbine in Victoria. Last September, a blade fell from a turbine at the Lal Lal wind farm near Moorabool, an incident that Vestas attributed at the time to a lightning strike.
There were no reports of lightning near Dundonnell on Monday. Production at Lal Lal resumed a day after its blade incident, but it is not clear when production will resume at Dundonnell.
Last month, a similar incident occurred in Ohio, where a blade of a Vestas 150 4.2MW turbine – the same model at Dundonnell – broke off at the 125MW Timber Road 4 project.
Vestas has sent a team to the Dundonnell site to investigate the cause of the incident.