Carter crash in Scotland

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The first Carter 300 kW turbine to have been erected in Britain crashed to the ground on the evening of March 12 in only moderate winds. A failed padlock, which locked the tilt-down tower's main pin into place, was the cause of the accident, claims Andy Gibbs, a former partner in Carter Wind Turbines Ltd of England, the UK arm of the American company. The machine is sited on his land at Cathlawhill Farm, some 20 miles west of Edinburgh.

Dave Corbett, managing director of the company in England, says a thorough examination of the reason for the failure is underway. "It is clear that it fell to the ground due to the padlock not being in place. But we're not sure yet why it wasn't properly secured." He says the tower and blades have been written off, but other parts are salvageable.

Gibbs claims the machine had not operated well since it was erected in August 1992 and that a series of component replacements resulted in low availability. He originally owned the machine before relinquishing it to Carter when he pulled out of the company. Corbett, however, says the turbine was a test bed machine. As such various experiments were carried out, including technical adaptations for its use in European conditions. The machine's availability is "very significantly higher" than the 55% stated by Gibbs, he says.

He adds that the company's other 300 kW machines in England, including the Great Orton wind farm of ten turbines, have been checked and there is no indication that the failure is about to repeat itself. Availability at Great Orton has been 98% and the wind farm produced 15% more power in 1993 than estimated for an average wind year.

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