An investigation is underway into the cause of a fire at the 161MW Tararua wind farm in New Zealand, that started in one of the project’s 134 Vestas turbines on Wednesday before being brought under control by emergency services.
The owners of the wind farm, Mercury, said the fire was contained to the one turbine, but a further five connected turbines had been taken out of service as a result of the event.
Site personnel have also temporarily paused the wind turbines in the affected area of the wind farm, at the site in the Tararua Ranges on NZ’s lower North Island.
“We’re still working to better understand how the fire started,” said Mercury’s general manager of generation, Stewart Hamilton, in a statement on Wednesday.
“Our on-site contractors Vestas will be undertaking a full review of the situation. Nobody was near the fire when it started, and damage is restricted to the one turbine.
“The fire is well contained within the turbine structure, and we are advised that the situation will be monitored and re-assessed tomorrow morning.”
The turbine fire – images of which are being gleefully shared on social media by anti-wind groups – is the latest in a handful of recent turbine-related incidents for Danish company Vestas, which is the world’s largest wind turbine maker.
This time last year in Australia, a 73 metre, 70 tonne blade fell off one of 80 newly installed Vestas turbines at the massive Dundonnell wind farm in Victoria, bringing production to a halt. Another Vestas turbine blade fall – in that case caused by a lightning strike – was also recorded at the Lal Lal wind farm, also in Victoria, in 2019.
In the US, a similar incident occurred in Iowa in October of 2020, also believed to be linked to lightning strikes. And in November 2020, a Vestas turbine tower toppled at a project under construction in Sweden.
The turbine in question at the Tararua wind farm – currently NZ’s biggest, which was built in three stages and until recently owned by Tilt Renewables – is a Vestas V90-3MW, hub height 65m with three 45m long blades.
Earlier this year energy generator Mercury joined with Powering Australian Renewables to buy Tilt’s New Zealand wind farms including Waipipi in Taranaki and Mahinerangi in Otago – a deal worth about $770 million.