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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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