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Two wind-turbines down in a week in the UK — Sabotage or failure?

Two wind towers are down in the last week in the UK 18 miles apart (Devon and Cornwall). It was thought the first tower (a six story £250,000 tower built in 2010) collapsed in the wind:

“The bolts on the base could not withstand the wind and as we are a very windy part of the country they [the energy company] have egg on their face,” she said. “There are concerns about safety.”

But, suspiciously, bolts were missing from the base and the second tower collapsed not far away. Sabotage is suspected. Who knows? The first tower was supposed to last for 25 years, and withstand winds of 116 mph. The night it fell, winds were only about 50mph.

There was fierce local opposition to the wind turbines. People do hate those things. That said, tampering with them would be a criminal act and also, logistically, possibly difficult to manage (according to some commenters on the Tele’s blog, “almost impossible”).  Accusing people of sabotage might be a convenient excuse for a company with “egg on their face”. In other words, we don’t know. Wind towers have fallen over before: There have been some 1500 incidents or accidents in the UK. It happens. (See also Businessweek 2007)

Margaret Coles, the chairman of Bradworthy Parish Council, revealed that an examination of the turbine had found that a number of bolts were absent from its base.

She said: “We know the bolts are gone but don’t know what caused it. It was a windy night – we do suffer lots of high winds but you would have thought the structure would cope with that.

“People that end of the parish were woken up by the crash it made when it came down. Some people think the bolts had been removed from the turbine which is why it was brought down.

“Others have said they saw charring on the turbine so they think it caught fire or was set fire to. We don’t know what happened and we want to find out.”

Dulas, the installer, said the turbine had not caught fire and claimed the company had never experienced a similar incident but would not comment further. “

The second tower was smaller — 11KW, compared to 50KW. Caithness Windfarm Information Forum lists data on UK turbine accidents.

It would be tragic if someone was killed by a falling turbine.

If it was sabotage, is this the kind of civil disobedience that Christine Milne would be proud of, or is sabotage only OK against voters she disagrees with?

————————————-

h/t to Colin in the UK and Matt J from Perth. :-)

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113 comments to Two wind-turbines down in a week in the UK — Sabotage or failure?

  • #
    Mark Aurel

    When it comes to conspiracy/sabotage or plain old cock-up, always go for the cock-up first as a plausible explanation.
    Unless of course you are the culprit, then it’s the reverse.


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  • #
    Bob Malloy

    If it was sabotage, is this the kind of civil disobedience that Christine Milne would be proud of, or is sabotage only OK against voters she disagrees with?

    rhetorical ?


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  • #
    The Black Adder

    I don’t trust Windfarms …
    I don’t trust the manufacturers …

    If they can’t be trusted to make 50 KW…
    How can they be trusted to have the strength and integrity to stand for 25 years??

    I do trust my wife though, and she can blow a lot …. :)


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    • #

      If they can’t be trusted to make 50 KW…

      That’s about 67 horsepower. Equivalent to an largish outboard engine. For $250,000?
      Hardly surprising these things are now commonly referred to as subsidy farms. It was never going to pay for itself in the real world.

      Helped build a couple of vertical shaft turbines in Wales in the early 80s. Dunno whether they were ever “rated” but they would keep a tractor battery charged enough to supply indoor lighting and transistorised devices. Neither of them ever fell over. Worst problem was icing up in winter, but they could be reached with a tractor-mounted hose.


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      • #
        Andrew

        50kW??? I was certain that this had to be a careless typo – it would barely run a handful of houses in winter – so I looked it up.

        B*gger me – it’s a TOY! Are these people completely mad??


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      • #

        It is not $250,000, but £250,000. That is about A$375,000.
        I think this value is probably exaggerated. Even if this figure is correct, it is possible to make a decent return.
        A 50kw capacity wind turbine might give a 30% actual average output. 50 x 30% x 365days x 24 hours = 131,400 kwh output p.a. Last August, the wholesale price of electricity was 4.7p per kwh. The Feed in Tariff is currently 21p per Kwh. (which is charged to consumers electricity bills). Multiplying 25.7p (A$0.385) by 131,400 gives £33,780 expected return per annum. Before maintenance, this is a 13.5% annual return before maintenance costs. What is more, the Feed in Tariffs are index-linked.
        The comparative subsidy for onshore large wind farms (>5MW) is just 4.138p per kwh.


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        • #
          oeman50

          I think a 30% capacity factor is over optimistic for a land-based wind turbine, more like 20%. This reduces the annual return to 9.0%, without maintenance (as you stated) and without the cost of money on the investment. And this is return depends on about 80% of it being subsidized through the FIT, not a terffic deal for the customer, wouldn’t you say?


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  • #
    MudCrab

    As an Engineering professional (design draftsman, mech) I would consider it extremely doubtful someone could just casually remove a few mounting bolts.

    For starters these would not be the size of fasteners your covered by your average sidchrome socket set and torqued to levels far in excess of what most people even think exist. To remove them is not something you would be able to do with the shifter casually hidden down the back of your jacket as you casually walked past saying ‘no idea, Office, those bolts were off when I got here’.

    Instead you would need some rather large industrial sized equipment that most people just simply don’t have access to (and the people who do normally have a bit too much professional pride to go around breaking things).

    Indeed at a semi educated guess I am thinking that the easiest way to remove any fasteners would be to use a gas axe and flame cut them off – not something you could easily hide once an investigation is undertaken.

    Depending on the design I am also guessing that any exposed thread would have been completely covered to protect from rust after installation, a process which would be likely to show tampering if a fastener had been removed.

    So, where does this leave us?

    Either there will be blantant signs of tampering and that will be ruled the cause. In this case I hope the people who did it will be found and get arrested because frankly doing that sort of thing is f.king stupid, irresponsible and likely to get someone killed you stupid idiots.

    Or, there will be no sign of tampering but the investigation will show fasteners were missing. This is also distrubing as it shows we have ‘clever’ saboters who know their job. See my comment above about stupid idiots who should be goaled.

    Or, and this is perhaps the most damaging and could get massively big on EVERYONE, the investigation will show either errors in build quality (in which case all towers of the same build batch would need to be shut down and inspected) or a major flaw in the design (in which case all towers of the same design would need to be shut down AND all other towers would face investigations).

    Personally I am not really sure which result I want it to be. Like I said, I am an engineering professional and proper engineering structures do not just fall over. As we are reminded through every single stage of our design safety training, accidents do NOT just happen – errors cause them.


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    • #
      MudCrab

      opps – that line SHOULD read,

      ‘No idea, Officer…’

      Me Engineering Professional. Me spel heaps good like. :P


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    • #
      Sceptical Sam

      Or the bolts were never inserted in the first place due to incompetence, oversight and poor quality control.

      But, it’s an ill wind…..


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      • #
        MudCrab

        Indeed Sam.

        What would (should?) happen in the real world is that any company with that sort of rubbish quality control would be fined out of existance. Like I said, in my career I have had numerious training classes on engineering safety and one of the things drummed into us was that if we didn’t act like professionals 100% of the time and anything went wrong, then it would be found out, the company would face fines so massive they could pay off the national debt and everyone would end up sacked (and good luck with getting a new job with that sort of thing on your CV).

        Unfortunately, having read through some of the links provided above, it seems that the wind industry isn’t actually the real world, and the companies that have designed, built and installed some of these failures, in many cases no longer exist.

        I am not saying ‘be afraid’ at this stage, but just from reading what I have in the last hour or so I would say ‘use caution’ and definately try and avoid standing anywhere near one.

        Really glad I didn’t apply for that drafting job with a wind company 15 months ago in retrospect. There are some things you don’t want to be professionally linked to.


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        • #

          There is a huge incentive for companies to get this right even without regulations. Wind turbines will generate huge profits (see my comment above) only if they are actually operating. If you are investing $350000+ on a wind turbine, simple checks to make sure the thing is will remain standing for its expected like are a pre-requisite. If one of many falls, an insurance claim can be made. If one falls through shoddy workmanship, then the insurance company will hike the premiums and insist on better quality control in construction.


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      • #
        JayTYee

        Or the bolts failed, either through a design fault or incorrect installation, and were whisked away by the company before the press could get a look. I mean, sabotage looks a lot “better” than incompetence, doesn’t it?


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    • #

      Would be much easier to say if one were able to kick the stuff on the ground.

      If sabotage is suspected, the area would be marked off as a crime scene; to protect against tampering with the evidence. No signs of that from the photographs I’ve seen online. (Another photo series.)

      The police confirmed they have not been involved with the collapsed turbine except to deal with sightseers at the scene who were blocking the road.

      i.e. sabotage is only a rumour.

      FWIW: One of the photos in that series (largest view of base flange from “below”) seems to show that the bolts have broken at ground level underneath the flange plate. And a couple of frames further, a couple of views of the flange from what should be “above” shows bolts with nuts apparently still in place.

      If there are no signs of deliberate damage such as severe notching with an angle griner or saw, this sort of failure would result if there is insufficient strength in the “bolts” that are part of the concrete footing (usually welded to the reinfording mesh before the concrete is cast). Such “bolts” are usually manufactured from steel bar for the job. Investigations will no doubt look at the materials actually used and the structural analysis.

      In my experience; those designing the towers are left in the dark as to the dynamic loads imposed by e.g. the blade pasing and the total rotating inertia of the stuff the pivots around the top in order to face into the wind. That means that fatigue factors from cyclic loading are often inadequately dealt with; with the struture only designed for the quasi-static wind loadings plus the usual safety factors. As though it were not a piece of rotating machinery subjected to 30 to 60 pressure pulses a minute as each airfoil passes the tower’s shaft. A frequency which, given the typical headload; is in the range of natural frequencies one finds in such a structure.


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      • #
        Len

        When you weld Grade 8 bolts, I have seen the steel become britle and the bolt has given away.


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        • #

          The welds are no more than “tack” welds to the reinforcing cage to hold everything in place during the pour. Such welds are a long way from the threads; well below the plinth atop which the tower would be bolted and therefore a long way from the critical cross sections.

          The heat-affected zone is tiny and far removed from the threaded end. It’s not reasonably plausible that failure resulted from such welds. Such welds are done in thousands of similar structures every day. The point of failure of the “bolts” appears to be in the thread area.


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      • #
        Andrew McRae

        Okay this is not quite so straightforward. My basic assumption here is that under no sequence of actions in any scenario can a bolt be broken in more than one place.
        The crucial two photos you have found are the below view and the top view. They clearly show at least one bolt-top and attendant nut are missing, possibly two.
        To my eyes, and this is crucially important, the place of the missing bolt is NOT letting ambient light though the hole from the other side, so something is still inside that bolt hole blocking light.

        Here is the puzzle of the missing bolt.

        If it was deliberately cut off at level of the nut, why didn’t the rest of the bolt stay in the foundation and leave the bolt hole to lift clear?
        If it snapped naturally below the nut how does the top of the bolt leave the scene when it cannot accelerate any faster than the flange that applied the strain?


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        • #

          One or two missing nuts will not result in catastrophic failure from a structure; especially when only exposed to about one quarter of its design load. Design standards for steel structures result in total factors of safety well in excess of 2; usually approaching 4 for the quasi-steady design loads.

          It takes a lot of effort and destructive type testing to prove a design that deviates from the design standards. i.e. you have to demostrate by full-scale test that the ultimate strength (ultimate load is the load beyond which the struture will fail) of the structure is sufficiently high to rule out in-field failures; taking into account production variability, corrosion, etc.

          Towers supporting wind turbines are critically thin-shell (the wall will buckle easily) when made from steel because they are built to be as rigid as financially possible so that they deflect (flex) very little under load. If they were to deflect, then the bearings of the machinery at the top get “unusual” loads which causes them to wear prematurely; unless more sophisticated bearings are used; which adds more cost than the sheet metal’s which would achieve the greater stiffness. A slender tower design can easily exhibit over 5% deflection at rated load but such aren’t used in any substantial wind power application because of the cost trade-offs; and the high inertia of the machinery at the top of the tower causing problems when moving large distances (and “tilting”).


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          • #
            Andrew McRae

            Blah blah, but you don’t know two bolts are insufficient for total failure of this specific design, plus you’re still implying the tower fell ultimately due to metal fatigue of the bolts (caused by vibration or unforeseen load).

            Any such naturalistic explanation of the failure must also explain why the failure mode of the two missing bolts was different to the failure mode of all the others that remained in place in the flange.

            Perhaps there is such an explanation, probably involving the direction of the prevailing winds putting extra tension on just those two leading bolts.

            On the other hand, if every form of sabotage I can think of predicts an end result that isn’t substantiated by the evidence then a design defect may be the only remaining hypothesis, even if it has not been entirely explained in detail.


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    • #
      oeman50

      A possibility, Mr. Crab, is the bolts failed for one of several reasons. If a bolt broke from stress, the nut and some part of the bolt could be “launched” to the surroundings as the built up tension is released. It could look like the bolt had been removed. The remaining bolts would then have to bear more stresss and the process is repeated. Just a thought.


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  • #
    Andrew McRae

    an examination of the turbine had found that a number of bolts were absent from its base.

    “Others have said they saw charring on the turbine so they think it caught fire or was set fire to.”

    The answer, my friends, is NOT blowing in the wind, it’s having a yarn in the pub about a job well done.

    Campaigners fear the wind farm will “interrupt and destroy” the remote beauty spot, famous for its Iron Age and Bronze Age settlements.

    And soon it will contain artefacts from the rather short-lived Wind Age. Isn’t anthropology fascinating?


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    • #
      Andrew McRae

      In the interests of truth and completeness of the record, I was wrong. My hasty assumption of sabotage led to the same place all unfounded assumptions lead. A later article in This Is North Devon gives an update on the saga and the manufacturer’s web site carries an identical mea culpa press release:

      [...] there was a problem with the structural grout and the manner in which the tower was fixed to the foundation that affected the durability of the anchor rods resulting in the tower collapse.

      My interpretation of “durability of the anchor rods” is that it is a comment on the rods themselves, not their steadfastness to their surrounding material, ie- the rods snapped.
      Assuming (heheh) that is the correct interpretation, the following is the full time score of our amateur air crash investigators.
      * Andrew was not even in the right ball park.
      * Bernd was vaguely on the right track with suggesting it had been a bolt failure, but guessed incorrectly that the bolts failed from fatigue due to being underspecified for cyclic load.
      * The very first comment on this thread by Mark Aurel looks in hindsight to have been sage advice.
      * Kevin Moore was the first to guess the grout around the bolts was the source of the problem. But a day later…
      * Rohan turned out to have the most accurate diagnosis of the failure, pointing out that Stress Corrosion Cracking starts with an incorrect ingredient mix of the bolt holder material (concrete in his case, grout in this case) and via corrosion culminates in bolt cracking, which most closely fits the “problem with the structural grout” reducing “the durability of the anchor rods”.

      And the biggest laugh out of all of this… wind towers are claimed to last 25 years and this batch of towers was built by “Endurance”. :)


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  • #

    When you think of sabotage here, keep in mind that old TV ad.

    Yeah, I built it with me spanner.

    If you seriously think a bunch of anti wind advocates sabotaged this, then I have this bridge …….

    The link below is a pdf document, just one of a number readily searched for with a search engine.

    Now, scroll down to the bottom of page 6 and all of page 7 to see just how many of these bolts are used to secure the tower to the foundation.

    It’s not just a few, and you can undo a couple of them, and ….. all fall down.

    Then note the extreme tension these bolts are tensioned to.

    So the idea of ….. “yeah, I undid it with me spanner” is ludicrous.

    No matter what will be spun up that this could be the work of saboteurs, talk like that is designed to ‘snow’ punters who know nothing about how these things are actually constructed.

    Wind Turbine Foundations

    Tony.


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    • #
      MudCrab

      Thanks for the PDF link, Tony.

      Few things I would like to refer to in order to explain what I was trying to describe in my own post above.

      Top of page 4 – R79T Tower End Cap. These are fitted over the exposed nut/thread assembly to protect from rust et al and are not intended to easily come off. To remove the nut you are going to need to remove this first, probably by cutting it off. Probably reasonably easy to spot in any investigation.

      Bottom of page 5 – Light weight hydraulic anchor bolt tensioner. Got one of them in your tool box, anyone? How about a hydraulic power source to run it as well? Going to casually sneak that up to the base of the tower when no one is looking?

      Photos page 6 – Now while I will admit not all towers are constructed the same way, but first note the large amount of fastening points around the flanges. At an educated guess the only reason the designers didn’t put in more was that you need spacing to physically get the mounting tools around the nut to fit them.

      Then note the second photo down. That is an INTERNAL flange we are looking at. That is INSIDE the base of the tower. To gain access to those nuts you would need to gain access to the inside of the tower. While I am assuming this would not be too hard as they have access doors for these sorts of things, I am also assuming that in normal service these access doors are kept locked.

      So, while it would technically be possible to undo all or some of the fasteners on the base of a tower, it is not something you would be able to do casually in 10 minutes.


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    • #
      Byron

      While I think that failure due to poor engineering or installation/assembly is most likely on the cock-up vs conspiracy principle that Mark Aurel mentions in the first post and given the wind turbine foundation link Tony provided showing how extensive the bolting system is , If I was investigating it I`d ask two questions to start with :

      1)just how flammable the epoxy bonding agent for the bolts is ?
      2)And the “charring on the turbine” was it on the turbine proper or on the tower base where the bolts are ?

      Basically , cock-up seems the most likely theory new information pending


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    • #

      They’re only small fasteners… up to M42. :-)

      But probably the range of sizes used for the small structure concerned.


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    • #
      Rohan

      One possible aspect that has been overlooked is stress corrosion cracking of the threaded anchors. If the incorrect aggregate grades was used in the foundation (eg high perlite content) then the concrete pore solution can be excessively alkaline. This presents ideal conditions for SSC type failure of high tensile strength steel alloys, which can occur very quickly.

      If my memory serves me, this was the cause of the pylon collapse of the Arthur’s Seat Chairlift in 2004. I can only find this link which only gives a summation.

      I’d be interested to see both the grade of aggregate and bolts used in this structure.


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  • #
    handjive

    What would have Karp Lykov thought of these “monuments to madness”?

    ❝ In 1978, Soviet geologists prospecting in the wilds of Siberia discovered a family of six, lost in the taiga ❞

    Many lamentations, to be sure.


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  • #
    william

    Maybe upon installation, the bolt holes in the mounting flanges were drilled wrong and some didn’t line up with each other.So instead of using those special offset bolts they show on posters at some engineering establishments, the bolts were simply left out.


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  • #
    AndyG55

    Those big offshore ones would make pretty good artificial reefs !


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  • #
    Ian Macmillan

    I am reminded of a problem with mandatory maintenance on military vehicles, which was unexpected failures due to excessive bolt tightening. So one wonders if the super powerful hydraulic torque spanners were set correctly.

    Also, the long embedded bolts seem to have broken at the flange, so I wonder about stress failures at the cut thread, and whether high tensile steel, which can be a problem if cyclicly stressed, was used for the bolts.


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  • #

    With all you read here at this Thread, it makes you wonder.

    Wind turbine towers crashing to the ground after a couple of years.

    While in the U.S. you have large 1000MW generators at nuclear power plants still in operation after many decades, still running at full speed.

    That entails driving a rotor weighing up to 500 tons at 60 rotations a second, flat out from one reactor rod refuel to the next, sometimes up to 18 months at a time.

    Tony.

    Post Script: U.S. power frequency 60Hz. Australian power frequency 50Hz.


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    • #

      Being objects of green worship, the monuments to gullibility get special dispensation.


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    • #

      I know that it’s dreadfully unfair of me to make such simple comparisons, but hey, it’s worth it.

      The proposed Ceres Wind Plant for the Yorke Peninsula in South Australia will have 180 towers each topped with a 3.4MW nacelle.

      This one generator I used as an example here, at that Nuclear power plant in the U.S. (just the one generator mind you, and each plant has two of them) has an average 1000MW nameplate capacity.

      Over one full year, that proposed wind plant of 180 towers will deliver to the grid the same power as that ONE Nuclear Plant generator can deliver in 67 days.

      Makes you think eh!

      Tony.


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  • #
    Kevin Moore

    From my experience if the epoxy has gone off or it is not mixed properly you can easily end up with a bolt hold failure.


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    • #

      If you mean the grout that is typical underneath the base flange, then I can see your point.

      I’d put down the lack of a visible “grout ring” on the photos of the underside of the flange down to poor resolution of the photos.


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    • #
      MudCrab

      I think Kevin is talking about when you drill into existing concrete and then ‘glue’ the threaded bar into the hole.

      While I confess to never having built a wind tower, based on the photos I have seen, the mounting threads for a tower are welded together in a massive cage structure that is then embedded into the concrete itself.

      Any grout used on these towers I would guess to be weather seal.

      I think… :D


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  • #
    Geoffrey Cousens

    Must all those anti-grav.U.F.O.’s that just keep crashing into the darn things.


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  • #

    Myself I’m putting my money on design load errors & resonance > stress fracturing > failure. The wind is full of surprises you won’t find in a wind tunnel. Even simple things like the metal being heated in the Sun can change loading. To me they are just like one enormous upright lever that wants to be flat. Nobody in their right mind builds a singular thin upright rigid structure with a focused lateral load at its very top and expect it to remain upright for long. The bigger they get, the harder they fall.


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  • #
    Dave

    .
    Another 42 have just gone in Musselroe Wind Farm Tasmania.

    Gone to China’s Guohua Energy Investment Corp who is paying around AUD $90 MILLION for a 75% stake holding.

    But wait – if $90 million is 75% the the project is worth only $120 million.
    The developer of the $395 million Musselroe wind farm in Tasmania says the project is on track for completion by July.

    Hydro Tasmania has just hit two key milestones for the project with the arrival of the final international shipment of components for turbines and the first fully complete wind turbine erected on site.

    Nearly $400 million project total – and we sold 75% for $90 million – am I going mathmatically mad?

    I’m not too worried because

    In late 2011, Guohua bought 75% stakes in the 65-megawatt Bluff Point and 75-megawatt Studland Bay wind farms in northwest Tasmania state — collectively known as Woolnorth — for A$88.6 million

    Similar maths here also. Maybe the GREEN WINDMILL Criminals have a different CASIO calculator?


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  • #
    Phillip Bratby

    As someone who lives near to the turbine that fell over in Devon, the inside information, which makes total sense, is that where the base bolts had sheared, 4 of them had cracked before the incident because the surfaces where the bolts had sheared through were dull not shiny like the others. There is a fixing agent applied to the bolts to stop them turning and coming loose, which accounts for all the sheared bolts remaining in the base.


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    • #

      Thanks Phillip.

      Sounds more and more like the work of that infamous saboteur going by the nickname of “Fatty Goo”.

      One of the perversities of fatigue is that as the crack progresses, it “softens” the structure, making it more flexible and quite often, more likely to exhibit excited resonance; resulting in further crack propagation.

      FWIW: Aircraft designers sweat bullets in their designs to try to ensure that a single broken fastener or weld crack doesn’t propagate to a catastrophic structural failure.


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  • #
    The Black Adder

    I notice there are no trolls on this post…

    What does this mean??

    Do they understand the Renewable scam is not worth defending?

    That would be nice but wishful thinking, I assume they’ve all gone to…

    Lord Moncktons first address on his Aussie tour…. :)


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    • #
      Dave

      .
      TBA,
      No trolls on the the next one either:
      Do forests drive wind and bring rain?

      Maybe they are embrassed because of their total lack of knowledge on the real environment.

      Maybe they just want the money – but their political world is crumbling around them like their TOY GREEN MODELS and WINDMILLS.

      But do you think they’re

      going to Lord Moncktons first address on his Aussie tour

      NUP!


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  • #
    Beth cooper

    ‘Look yonder, Sancho,’ cried Don Quixote. ‘Here are several
    terrible giants whom I intend to encounter. Some of that
    detested race have arms that reach two leagues across the
    land!’
    So saying, couching his lance and protecting himself with
    his shield, Don Quixote rushed with Roxanne’a utmost speed
    towards the first windmill.


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  • #
    Dan Clancy

    Send the all knowing Brookes across to provide us with his expert opinion.


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  • #
    meltemian

    “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity”


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  • #
    Beth cooper

    Yes Dave,

    ‘Heaven send us better times, fer here (in la Mancha) there
    is nothing but plotting and counter plotting and promises of
    efficient energy and sus-tainability from on again,off again
    giant wind turbines … er …wind mills.Say,where’s me
    goddam horse! ‘


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  • #
    Ace

    Things like this can lead to frightening places.

    I dont doubt some people would if they could. That would be bordering on terrorism. I doubt that they could do it.That would require the engineering resources of the company that erected the things. BUT I am also sure that Green Fascists would love for the sabotage to be real and they will cycle this idea even if they know it isnt real.

    So we have the prospect of a myth developing of turbine sabotage (these myths are easily developed, we have lots of them in Britain, such as the mythical wild pumas that are supoosed to infest every county). Next we get The Authorities investigating these in the same context as terrorism proper.

    From there its a short step to having opponents of wind-power monitored and harrassed as though they were actual terrorists.

    These turbines falling over are potentially not a million miles from that incident when the Reichstag burned down.


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    Beth cooper

    re yer Stiff Wind cartoon,Dave:)

    Picture yer typical windfarm. Towers more than 200 feet high susupporting a turbine housing the size of a bus … and sweeping
    the sky,three rotor blades over a 100 feet long …say, listen
    ter that thrumm! The unit’s gear box is designed to operate at
    wind speeds around 10mph. At speeds below 8mph the blades don’t turn.IN A STIFF WIND, at speeds above 16mph,the blades are
    supposed ter lock down so they won’t be destroyed or, I suppose,
    the wind turbine might … jest …fall … down!


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    Beth cooper

    I giv up on the line length(


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    Sonny

    I would have thought the easiest way to sabotage these things is with a high powered rifle aimed at the motor housing or the base of the blades.

    Toppling it is totally unnecessary.

    Note: I am not advocating the destruction of wind turbines. I say let them stand as a testament to human stupidity.


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    Jaymez

    Obviously to declare that the failures of the wind turbines were actually caused by sabotage us skeptics would want to actually see the evidence..

    However it is not outside the realms of possibility. A determined saboteur is going to go prepared and equipped for the job. But it was an interesting question to pose whether The Greens would consider it as justified civil disobedience. The Greens are not only previously on record in Australia for supporting the recent stock market hoax which Jo referred to, but are also on record for condoning:

    - the destruction by Greenpeace activists of a half-hectare of genetically modified wheat developed by scientists at CSIRO to be highly water efficient and easy on the human bowel. Senator Bob Brown, then leader of the Greens, said “…. you have to stand up for what you believe in sometimes…” http://dailywire.com.au/index.php/blog/38/entry-679-is-green-moral-outrage-hypocrisy-writ-large/

    - breaking of the rules of the sea and placing lives at risk by deliberately ramming and boarding vessels in protest. Senator Bob Brown then leader of The Greens was asked if he supported the Sea Shepherd ramming the Japanese whaling ships and boarding theirs ships. Senator Brown said: “If it comes to that, yes.” “The most important law is not that written by the whalers in Japan, it’s the law of nature which says we have to look after this planet or it will extrude us in the long run,” he said. http://www.smh.com.au/news/environment/whale-watch/greens-support-ramming-japanese-whalers/2008/12/10/1228584917023.html

    So as far as The Greens are concerned, if they think it is in the interests of the planet, then the law doesn’t apply to them and anything goes. To have a leader of a political party in Australia not support the laws of Australia is quite astonishing.

    But how would they feel if activists who were convinced wind turbines were driving wildlife away and killing birds and not saving any greenhouse gases in the long run, (if they did think greenhouse gases were a problem), did start deliberately sabotaging wind turbines? Would The Green’s leaders graciously say we don’t agree with their actions, but we congratulate them on having the courage of their convictions?

    What if other activists were convinced that the subsidies for solar was immorally sending our power bills sky-rocketing for no real benefit and in an aim to discourage any more solar farm and household installations, had a team of activists who smashed the solar panels as quickly as they were put up? Would the Greens then admire their dedication, ingenuity and courage of convictions?

    I doubt it, yet in both cases they would much more scientific and economic data to justify their actions than the Greenpeace have to justify wrecking months and millions of dollars of research into developing wheat crops which will help feed the poor in the world and which can be grown in less viable locations in the world!


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    Joe V.

    So there could be many more wind towers, already with sheared bolts and just waiting for one final strong enough gust to knock them over ? OMG.

    How do you detect sheared bolts that are still being held in place ?

    Should all wind farms be closed immediately , until they can all be X-rated ?


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      Joe V.

      This was following from the very helpful local insight provived by Philip Bratby at Comment #16


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    • #
      Ace

      Who gains most from a turbine toppling?

      The operator.

      If they are aware of the way the basis for policy may be shifting its in their interest to cash in on insurance claims whilst they still can.


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    • #
      Joe V.

      That should have been x-rayed. Thanks to Apple’s Autocorrection, which is clearly more familiar with web browsing than metallurgical inspection methods.


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      • #
        Greg Cavanagh

        No Joe, I think you almost got it right the first time. They should be classed as X-rated now. Adults only, with supervision of minors and polititians.


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    Ace

    Of course in the UK there is the parallel story of Gatso’s. These were not so much sabotaged as hacked down, blown up, incinerated, lopped-off, painted over…until some authorities coincidentally acknowledged that they actually served no legitimate purpose and had them removed.

    But a Gatso is a tiny target compared to a turbine tower.

    Even pumas are more plausible than the Loch Ness creature.


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    Roy Hogue

    Given the obvious mounting anger and resentment over these monsters (six stories high, what are they thinking?) I’m not surprised if it’s sabotage. But it wouldn’t be the first example of slipshod design or construction either.

    Personally I could hope every last one falls of its own dead weight as long as they don’t do anyone any harm when they fall. Serves them right!


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    J Martin

    Where were the bolts and the rest of it made ? China ?

    What quality control was applied to samples of the supplied bolts ? None ?

    What records are there of the devices used to torque up the bolts ?

    What records are there of the torque applied to each bolt ?

    Cockup is the most likely explanation.

    If one wanted to sabotage a windmill surely no one would go after the bolts ?


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    • #
      Roy Hogue

      Cockup is the most likely explanation.

      I do love these expressions! I really do. I would not dare put the U.S. version of that in writing for all the coal in Australia. You say it so aptly! :twisted:


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      Ace

      China…are you kidding, nobody makes SHITE like the British: slotted screws without slots in their heads, that I have had, for a fact, you couldn’t make it up, blank heads. Unbelieveable.”Made in Britain”.


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    Entropic man

    The mounting bolts on the 500kW wind turbines near my home are at least 3″ diameter and the nuts are twice that. There are 32 per base.
    You could unbolt them with the right equipment, but it would be a considerable undertaking.


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      Ace

      Ha…you’ve been to see if you could!


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    • #
      Andrew McRae

      The Telegraph article only reported someone saying some “bolts” had been “removed”. There are plenty of ways of interpreting those two words when the person saying them may not have been very precise in terminology.

      The first person in this entire thread that ever suggested even jokingly that the towers were sabotaged by actually undoing the nuts was TonyFromOz. It was, of course, a total strawman argument, followed by a red herring, followed by an argument from incredulity, and it therefore should not be taken seriously.

      The truth of this matter is increasingly complicated, perhaps more complicated than sabotage, but the two “missing” bolts still annoy me. If it is physically possible for a fractured bolt to pop up out of the hole and fly off at high speed faster than the surrounding flange, then I may be persuaded to the Design Defect hypothesis.


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      • #

        Andrew,

        The first person in this entire thread that ever suggested even jokingly that the towers were sabotaged by actually undoing the nuts was TonyFromOz. It was, of course, a total strawman argument, followed by a red herring, followed by an argument from incredulity, and it therefore should not be taken seriously.

        Say, I didn’t want to be taken seriously.

        The guy snuck up to the base of the tower, yelled at the top of his voice, “Hey look over there. Isn’t that Britney Spears?”

        When everyone all the cows turned their heads, off he went.

        He was however, thwarted.

        He tried to do the task with a Metric Shifter!

        As the Red Baron once exclaimed ….. “Curses, foiled again.”

        Tony.


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        • #
          Andrew McRae

          Ah very good sir, you nearly caught me.
          Presumably the crook’s other mistake was using a left-handed screwdriver?

          But this theory is not yet ridiculous enough. ;)
          Not only am I going to insist it was sabotage, but the ingeniousness of their method is far beyond what anyone has yet imagined.

          I can now reveal, for the first time, that the saboteur used… A DEVON HAM LANCE.

          :D :D
          One dare not contemplate the consequences for the world if this Hans were to fall into the wrong weapon….

          :D


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    J Martin

    What risk analysis has ever been conducted with regard to any side effects that windmills may have on the environment ?

    Nothing in life is free, windmills take energy out of the atmosphere, cooling the atmosphere and slowing atmospheric circulation.

    Since large storms have been observed to affect length of day I wonder if windmills and perhaps also skyscrapers are causing the slowdown in the LOD to accelerate. If so then that would have immense consequences for the environment leading to more frequent and stronger storms and ultimately destroy most life on Earth.


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      Ace

      Absolutely. This I have always pondered. Econutters talk in terms of “renewable energy” as though it were perpetual motion. They seem to have no grasp ofthe basics of natureand think entropy is a type of colonic irrigation.

      I remember alot of hu ha when I was a kid about the French tidal power station. St Malo I think. Anyway, what really fascinated me was that this single “renewable energy” projectactually slows the Earths rotation by a miniscule but calculable and definite figure.

      My hunch is that sufficient windmills to generate as much power as any conventional method will exert an effect upon the environment of a comparable scale if in a different variable.


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        J Martin

        Interesting. I didn’t know about the tidal barrage effect on LOD. They want to build one on the river Severn in England which would be much larger than the French one.

        Essentially, renewable energy is a death sentence for mankind.

        Perhaps the only form of renewable energy that isn’t would be solar panels.

        Windmills and skyscrapers should be banned.


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          Ace

          The worse thing about the Severn insanity is that it would meaan creation of a vast lake of sewage nasal distance from one of my homes. As it is, the Wales side of the Southern crossing stinks unbelieveably of human shit every time Ive ever passed through it with the window ajar.


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            Ace

            …I love tall buildings. I would have nothing against the terrestrial turbines were we not having to pay for their subsidy and look forward to future power outages due to lack of production capacity. That said, I can barely afford electricity anyway.

            I love cranes. Tower cranes but also the mighty road-mobile lifter from Slough that takes all day to extend to full height with the assistance of one or two regular sized cranes and looks like a prop from Thunderbirds when its on the road.

            That outside my window permanently I would not object to.

            However, the thought of sea-based turbines sending an aerosol of untreated sea-sewage inland is mortifying.

            You will have noticed Iam not keen on other peoples faeces in our faces.


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        Bite Back

        My hunch is that sufficient windmills to generate as much power as any conventional method will exert an effect upon the environment of a comparable scale if in a different variable.

        And so it will go no matter what we do. How does anyone think that anything can live on this planet without changing it in one way or another? Screw the worriers. We have as much right to pee on this planet as any animal has. We have as much right to eat some animal as any predator has. We have as much right to cut down a tree as any beaver has. And we have a right to burn whatever we want to burn for any useful purpose.

        Our problem is to manage our resources and our use of them, not cut ourselves off from them.


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    Alex Heyworth

    Sabotage is a failure. Not of the physical structure, but of the system of having widely distributed power generation. All such systems are by definition vulnerable to sabotage or vandalism. It should be built into cost estimates for such systems.


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    Joe V.

    Isn’t this the same place where James Lovelock (of Gaia fame) was protesting the erection of a windmill, in just December).

    to Torridge District Council .

    Torridge District is also mentioned in this report in the Times

    The second 60ft turbine collapsed on a farm in North Petherwin, Cornwall.
    It was installed by manufacturer Gaia-Wind which said there was “no evidence” it had been tampered with.

    I’m sure the founder of Gaia had absolutely nothing to do with these incidents. Could it have been Gaia herself though ?


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    NikFromNYC

    Bolts that stick up so high as lever handles may merely require a high leverage fence puller between adjacent bolts to snap them off.


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      Greg Cavanagh

      High tensile steel. You ain’t gonna “snap” them off anytime this century.

      When I was young and living on a farm. We had a roll of high-tensile fencing wire (no idea why). That stuff is hell tough to bend, cut, or use in any way.

      If I’m reading it correctly, these threads are 42mm diameter. I’ve worked with 42mm concrete reinforcing, Solid and heavy is what that stuff is.


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    elva

    Most on here would know about Ted Turner. He’s the billionaire formerly married to Jane Fonda. Hee is a dyed in the wool Green conservationist. But despite owning a huge ranch in area he will not allow a windmill on his land. Typical story which exposes a lot about hypocritical attitudes.


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  • #

    Britain has a major problem with metal theft – it could be the metal thieves have simply found a new target.


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    • #

      The larger “wind farms” in Germany are often visited by “independent recyclers” … but they’re not after the steel. They want the copper, including the HT cable connecting the tower to the grid) and the brass from the switchgear. “Recyclers” with an eye on the construction usually pick some night between the cable being on site and hookup to the grid.


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    J Martin

    When the report said that “one or two bolts had been removed”, perhaps they omitted the words “for analysis”.

    Sabotage seems unlikely, probably a metallurgy issue, or an installation issue; either over or under torqued.

    Although windmills are completely pointless and may even hasten the extinction of mankind, there seems little point in anyone sabotaging them since they are so unreliable. Do nothing and they will break down and become uneconomic to repair soon enough.


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    Joe V.

    That’s is fascinating. I learned about the River Rance tidal scheme in school, then sent my long suffering Geography teacher a postcard from it, many years later.
    As the tidal flow would be transverse to the planetary rotation I can only imagine the slowing is due to the water level in the estuary being kept higher for more of the time, but I still doubt that it’s provable.


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    A note at Bishop Hill says: Wind farms gone in 25 years

    Based on actual service durability; those 25 years are 2 to 3 generations of the subsidy extractors.


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    Snafu

    The Greens won’t allow the building of dams for hydro-power or flood mitigation or clearing of land for city / town by-passes to reduce traffic congestion because of some ‘endangered’ frog species or similar……but when it comes to building inefficient windmills…..who cares:

    Bureaucrats ignored advice from biologist to leave eagle’s nest and move wind turbine in Haldimand County


    He’s the leading expert on bald eagles in southern Ontario, someone Ontario bureaucrats call on for guidance — most recently, when a relatively rare eagle nest was found near the site of a planned wind turbine.

    But when biologist Jody Allair told bureaucrats to protect the nest and move the turbine, they did the opposite, defending their stance on what Allmair says are shaky grounds.

    “I was surprised and disappointed,” said Allair, who heads the Southern Ontario Bald Eagle Monitoring Program for Bird Studies Canada.

    The nest in Fisherville, in Haldimand County, was suspected as far back as the summer but it was early November, after leaves fell, that residents began phoning and the Natural Resources Ministry asked Allair to confirm it was an active nest — and it was.

    The nest, just 20 metres from the planned turbine, was likely hundreds of pounds — a bald eagle’s nest can be as big as 3 tonnes.

    “Any time there’s a new nest, that’s a cause for celebration,” Allair said. “I recommended strongly that the nest needed be left alone, the turbine needed to be moved and a buffer had to be created.”

    But while Allair thought the nest would be saved and the planned turbine moved from plans that placed it 20 m away, the ministry decided otherwise, issuing behind closed doors a permit Dec. 31 to allow NextEra Canada to remove it to build a 56-turbine wind farm that will produce enough electricity to power 32,000 homes.

    Four days later — and just one day before the nest was removed — the ministry reported the permits and the reasons for issuing it on Ontario’s environmental registry.

    The ministry wrote it was important to expand clean and renewable sources of energy — subsidized by taxpayers — and that the eagles could relocate in time to nest and law eggs — something Allair says is far from certain.

    http://www.lfpress.com/2013/01/13/bureaucrats-ignored-advice-from-biologist-to-leave-eagles-nest-and-move-wind-turbine-in-haldimand-county


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    Dave N

    Then there is this:

    http://hockeyschtick.blogspot.com.au/2013/02/new-study-finds-wind-farms-last-only-50.html

    For what it’s worth: I would be all for wind power if it were a viable industry. To me it would seem wiser to properly research the technology first.


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  • #

    Just about the first thing any alarmist does is blame the skeptics. Throwing up the theory of sabotage also deflects from the growing failures of windmills in general. I never knew they could be so exciting. :) Anyhoo, these bolts aren’t something that can be casually unscrewed and popped into a pocket. I should imagine after snapping they could be flung outwards, the tower would come down with quite substantial force. If bolts are missing, they should check the field.


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    Wind “farms” worse than useless.

    The research project that took everyone by surprise (except the residents of Waterloo)
    Waterloo wind farm began operation in 2010, comprising 37 turbines.

    It is located about 30 km from the town of Clare, in the heart of the South Australian wine growing and tourism region.

    So in the following year when a supervisor at the University of Adelaide suggested a postgraduate student undertake a study into the impacts of turbine noise on nearby residents, it probably seemed a simple exercise.

    More than 70% of the respondents claimed they had been negatively affected by the wind farm noise, with more than 50% saying they had been very or moderately negatively affected.

    Health issues reported related mainly to sleep deprivation, according to the survey. But more controversially, residents also reported headaches, a possible indicator of sub-audible noise or infrasound.

    Several respondents reported symptoms so extreme they bought property elsewhere.

    In summary, the report said, the state’s wind farm guidelines to manage noise and protect the wellbeing of residents living near South Australia’s burgeoning wind turbine installations had failed.

    [Former Waterloo resident] Marciniak also made several other allegations, including that Wang had been instructed not to release the research and after he gave one copy to a resident was “punished” by being told he no longer had a university job that was promised to him.

    “If the material is his own, why is he being punished for giving it back to the resident?” Marciniak asked.

    The university’s manager, ethics and compliance, Michelle White, emailed back saying she would “respond in due course”. Marciniak, according to local residents, heard nothing more.


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    Angry

    All these “bir munchers” need to be taken out by c4……..


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    Angry

    Interesting read about the deternebtal heal effects from these “bird munchers” (wind turbines).

    Low Frequency Noise, Infrasound and Wind Turbines – The Society for Wind Vigilance………

    http://www.windvigilance.com/about-adverse-health-effects/low-frequency-noise-infrasound-and-wind-turbines


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    Angry

    Interesting read about the detrimental health effects from these “bird munchers” (wind turbines).

    Low Frequency Noise, Infrasound and Wind Turbines – The Society for Wind Vigilance………

    http://www.windvigilance.com/about-adverse-health-effects/low-frequency-noise-infrasound-and-wind-turbines


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    David

    I think sabotage is a complete red herring – in order to be sure that this thing would fall over in 50mph winds, it would take three or four guys with some SERIOUSLY large spanners a couple of hours to undo enough of the holding-down bolts to get it to topple over.
    The big disappointment for me is that it didn’t fall on the farmhouse, where the farmer/landowner was sitting at his kitchen table, eyes glinting, as he counted his feed-in tariff takings..
    But then, I’m not a very nice person…


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    Because wind farms tend to be built on uplands, where there are good thermals, they kill a disproportionate number of raptors. In Australia, the Tasmanian wedge-tailed eagle is threatened with global extinction by wind farms.
    http://www.spectator.co.uk/features/8807761/wind-farms-vs-wildlife/


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