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GE to replace blades at US project following break

UNITED STATES: GE is set to replace 33 blade on its turbines at a Michigan wind farm after a blade broke on the project in November.

The GE 1.6-100 has been subject to several blade breaks
The GE 1.6-100 has been subject to several blade breaks

The break at the 112MW Echo Wind Park, which GE has put down to a "spar cap anomaly", was the second such incident involving the 1.6-100 model, and was followed by a third at 94MW Orangeville wind farm in New York State, also in November.

Spar caps are load-bearing structures that help strengthen the outer shell of the blade.

A "discrete set" of blades has been identified as at risk of breaking, GE said, and a review of all the blades at DTE Energy-operated Echo and Invenergy's Orangeville has been carried out, resulting in the decision to replace some of the blades at Echo.

GE is has contacted all other customers that might be affected by the anomaly, but the company stressed that blades that are not subject to the defect are safe to operate.

All turbines at the Echo project have been shut down since the incident which happened only a month after the first turbines were turned on. DTE now says that it will restart the turbines that GE has found to be safe.

In response to the breaks, the manufacturer said it is increasing monitoring at its manufacturing plants.

"We have put additional controls in place to prevent future events from happening, including resourcing GE inspectors who are performing additional quality reviews and data verification, as well as oversight from GE Engineering," said a spokesperson.

GE said that the first incident in March last year at DTE's 110MW Thumb Wind Park, also in Michigan, was an anomaly and was not related to the other two events.

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