Wind opponents make much of failures of old wind turbines

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The recent failures of two aged wind turbines, sold as second-hand machines into the French market, played into the hands of France's vociferous anti-wind power lobby. On a calm night in early October a blade fell off a 15 year old Belgian Windmaster 300 kW machine, one of five installed at Saint-Thégonnec and Pleyber-Christ in the Finistère département of northern France. It is not the first time there have been problems at the site, which is owned by local private investors. On two separate occasions in 2004, blades broke scattering pieces in strong winds. Old age coupled with high winds were probably also to blame for a second incident in which a 13 year old Dutch Lagerwey collapsed at Bondues, near Lille, last month. The privately owned 80 kW unit was installed in the car park of an industrial zone. The weekend accident caused no other major damage. "Does someone have to die before the minister imposes security zones around turbines?" rails Vent du Bocage, a group opposed to industrial-scale wind power. Enquiries are now under way to find the causes of the two incidents.

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