Constant Community Pests: Giant 300 Tonne Wind Turbines Keep ‘Dropping’ In On Neighbours
For wind industry spin-kings, one pesky problem that won’t go away is the routine and catastrophic collapses of their 300 tonne whirling wonders.
We’re repeatedly told that rural communities just can’t wait to have hundreds of these things speared into their backyards. Except, of course, if those backyards belong to former Greens leaders, like Dr Bob Brown.
Throwing their blades to the four winds, spontaneously combusting and collapsing in catastrophic fashion, over the last few years, there have been hundreds of ‘structural failures’ – where either 10-15 tonne blades are shredded or flung in all directions; or their 90-100m towers implode, unceremoniously delivering the 80-100 tonne nacelle to terra firma, with terrifying effect.
Here are a couple more examples of how gravity continues to conspire against the ‘inevitable’ transition.
Wind turbine snaps at Saaremaa wind farm
17 February 2022
A wind turbine at the Sõnajalg-owned Salme Wind Farm in Saaremaa snapped on Tuesday. No people were injured in the incident.
“The accident is no big deal,” Andres Sõnajalg told Delfi (link in Estonian). “We’ll repair it and it will work again.”
The turbine in question is an older generation wind turbine produced by Enercon. According to Sõnajalg, the technology used by their Eleon turbines is new and better protected against such situations. [Really??]
Living in the shadow of a wind farm: The people surrounded by turbines which promised to lower bills, now terrified they could fall like trees
Corrie David and Ted Peskett
19 February 2022
Straddling the border of Bridgend County and Rhondda Cynon Taf is a community with a rich history of harnessing energy.
Back as far as the late 19th Century, Gilfach Goch and Evanstown – like much of the Welsh valleys – was known as a mining community.
The Gilfach Goch Coillery employed boys and men through the village. Though the work was difficult and dangerous, residents recall a sense of pride in their past.
But as we know, the mines would eventually close and the land reclaimed. Until the wind farms were built.
The community sits right at the top of the valley, providing beautiful views, but also making it a great location for wind turbines.
Even those who have lived in the community their whole lives are unsure of the number surrounding their homes.
“Every time you look up you count another,” a local states.
Members of the community fought against the wind farms initially, but they eventually lost and the renewable energy farms were established.
There are new concerns however regarding the longevity of the wind turbines after one at the Pant Y Wal wind farm came crashing to the ground on February 14.
John Edwards, 80, has lived in Gilfach Goch his entire life.
“I woke up in the morning, there was a big gust of wind and then I heard a bang.
“I thought it was the door of my next-door neighbour’s gully slamming, but it was the turbine falling to the ground.”
Having lived in the area his whole life, he has seen massive changes over the years.
“If you look at it now, you wouldn’t think there’s been mining activity in Gilfach,” he explained.
“It’s a beautiful valley to what it was when I when I was born.”
Given how the village used to look, John is content with the wind turbines, however, he rejects the idea of any more.
“The only concern I have is when they said they were building them ‘you’ll have cheaper electricity’, but my electric bill is going up every year.”
Locals from the community protested the wind farms initially and managed to overturn the plans twice before the turbines were built.
Kay Leek, now 80, was a member of the protest group.
“We’ve suffered,” she explained. “We’ve had the land reclaimed from the colliery, to make our land look beautiful, and then you get these monstrosities surrounding us.”
Kay, much like John, has got used to some of the smaller turbines, but feels the community is being taken advantage of by big energy firms.
“I can see some from my conservatory, they’ve been there quite a few years and I’m not opposed to them, but we’ve done our part.”
She explained that the falling turbine was a concern of the protest group from the start.
“We fought so hard and we had such a passionate group.
“A lot of people go walking up there, I would think a lot of people may be afraid to go walking close to them.”
Gilfach Goch residents estimate that the turbines have been up for around 15 years, about five years less than the average lifespan of a turbine.
They worry this may be the start of more failures, particularly after Storm Eunice, and more could be erected in their place.
“I think we have got enough [turbines], because it can spoil the view.”
Sixty-three-year-old Russell Palmer owns a shop in the village, Jeans hardware, and has lived there his entire life.
Despite only hearing about the falling turbine online the following day, he was concerned about the vulnerability of locals.
“Somebody could have been killed easily, a group of ramblers or something, it could have been really nasty.”
Much like the rest of the community, Russell is keen to see new wind turbines be spaced out away from his village.
“I think we’ve been targeted to put them all up here, we’re out of the way and nobody moans.
“They did have a few meetings trying to stop it but it didn’t work.
“I think we’ve got our share definitely, I think it’s somebody else’s turn.”
One of the most contentious issues for another valley currently is the Y Bryn wind farm, which could potentially home the UK’s tallest wind turbines.
If approved, Y Bryn would be situated on land between the Llynfi and Afan valleys and would be home to turbines measuring 250m in height – Only the Shard (310m), The Helter-Skelter, TwentyTwo and The Pinnacle (278m) are taller in the UK.
Members of the ‘STOP Y Bryn Onshore Wind Farm’ group are now more concerned than ever after the turbine collapse in Gilfach.
Rhodri Williams, who is part of the community action group, said safety is a “huge concern” for residents in relation to the proposed project, which will straddle Bridgend County Borough and Neath Port Talbot County Borough.
He said: “You can imagine if one of those comes crashing down that it is not going to be too far away from peoples’ homes.
“We are pushing for the whole proposal to be scrapped if not suspended until a full independent investigation has taken place so [that] we know the causes of this [collapse at Pant Y Wal].
“Residents are going to be very worried now about the dangers of these turbines.”
Cwmavon resident Andrew Thomas said he was “absolutely horrified” when he heard about the collapsed wind turbine at Pant Y Wal.
“These are very small turbines [in comparison] that came down in Gilfach.”
On Y Bryn wind farm, Andrew added: “These are the first [turbines] of their size to be [brought] to the UK.
“These things are going to be colossal.”
A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “Since the incident at Pant-y-Wal, we have been in contact with the wind farm operator to seek assurances that public safety is being prioritised, particularly in relation to maintenance and the condition of the turbines on site.