Many more than five Enercon machines refit

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Dozens of Enercon E40 turbines are being retrofitted with both mechanical and software fixes to prevent their nacelles crashing to the ground in the event of a component failure. The retrofit is being carried out following the failure of two E40 units earlier this year when the so-called "kingpins" attaching the nacelle to the tower snapped (Windpower Monthly, April 1999). The preventative maintenance involves the addition of security bolts, as well as software to shut down turbines should sensors detect any untoward movement of the nacelle.

One month ago Enercon's owner, Aloys Wobben, said the problem was limited to a sub standard batch of five kingpins, a cast iron component supplied by a Spanish foundry. Wobben said a retrofit was to be carried out on the five turbines on which these kingpins were installed. He indicated these were the only machines on which the retrofit was needed. Since then, a series of wind plant operators in Germany have reported retrofits being carried out on their turbines, while the fix has been completed on 23 turbines in Austria.

The retrofit takes about half a day per machine and the cost is covered by Enercon, according to both Enercon's Austrian agent, Fritz Herzog, and German wind plant operators, among them Winkra Project of Hannover.

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