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United Kingdom

Rotor drops off in Cornwall

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Within hours of the destruction of blades and a rotor on three WEG MS-3 machines by storm force winds in Wales, the rotor on a fourth MS-3 in Cornwall fell to the ground. But this time a "maintenance fault" was to blame and not high winds, says David Lindley of National Wind Power, the developer of the wind farm of Wind Energy Group (WEG) machines at Cold Northcott where the failure occurred.

"Basically it's Murphy's law which has conspired against us. Anything which could go wrong did go wrong," he adds, referring to the chain of events affecting NWP wind farms from December 8-10. The MS-3 at Cold Northcott failed on December 10 in wind speeds of 7 m/s, just 36 hours after the Cemmaes wind farm in Wales was hit by hurricane gusts (see main story). Lindley says the Cold Northcott failure occurred following replacement of a component in the pitch linkage of the machine. This had led to a "complicated sequence of events." He adds: "It was failure of a critical component. The rotor detached and fell to the ground."

Of WEG's MS-3 design, Lindley comments: "There is no evidence at the moment that there is an intrinsic design fault." He points out that the turbine has been tested both at a turbulent site in California and at the UK test site at East Kilbride in Scotland. East Kilbride has higher mean wind speeds than the Cemmaes site, according to Lindley. The two-bladed machine has never failed before, he says, and in 15 years WEG has never had any rotor problems.

From WEG, John Armstrong says: "We are, of course, thoroughly investigating both incidents and are sure they are isolated occurrences. The design integrity of the machine is not in question." He points to WEG's long track record with the MS-1 machine installed on Orkney ten years ago and the MS-2 machines installed in California seven years ago, both projects on sites which are among the windiest developed. "All these machines are still operating satisfactorily," he concludes.

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