Suzlon blade fails while waiting for fix

UNITED STATES: A wind turbine rotor blade scheduled for replacement in the US by manufacturer Suzlon broke off its turbine in late October before maintenance teams got around to replacing it, says the company.

Replacement blades for the machine -- one of four 2.1 MW turbines at the 8.4 MW AgriWind project -- were already on site, it says.

"The blades were sitting on the ground and ready to go, the crane was going to come and we were going to outfit the turbines with fresh blades, and unfortunately the failure happened," says Suzlon. The small wind plant is majority owned by John Deere Wind.

The blade was one of hundreds across the US targeted for replacement as part of a major retrofit program announced by Suzlon in February following the discovery of cracks in 45 blades (Windpower Monthly, April 2008).

The AgriWind blade failure is "very likely" the result of the same problem, says Suzlon: "There's such damage there, that it pretty clearly shows the separation happened at the point where the cracks are appearing." Local news photographs show the blade cracked off very close to the rotor hub.

The $25 million repair program includes localised strengthening at the point of weakness and/or full blade replacements for up to 1251 blades. The company will not complete all repairs until late spring 2009.

"There are about 300 plus blade sets all across the country that have to be retrofitted, so you can imagine it's not an overnight job," says Suzlon.

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