U.K. Turbine Falls as Locals Say Should Resist Gusts

Dulas Ltd., a Welsh renewable-energy company, said a wind turbine in southwest England collapsed amid gusts of wind that local residents described as unexceptional for the area.

The 50-kilowatt turbine at a site in Bradworthy, north Devon, toppled in the early hours of Jan. 27, Sanjay Bowry, chief executive officer at the Powys-based company, said by e-mail. Dulas and the machine’s manufacturer, Endurance Wind Power, are investigating the cause including wind speeds, he said.

“Due to the isolated location of the turbine, no one was put at risk and we are currently working hard to establish the precise cause of the incident,” he said.

The collapse may fuel objections to land-based turbines, which have faced local resistance from Cornwall to Scotland because of their visibility and noise. About 100 Conservative Party lawmakers wrote to Prime Minister David Cameron last year calling for subsidy cuts for onshore turbines, saying they’re an intermittent power source and a blight on the landscape.

“It was a windy night,” said Margaret Coles, chairwoman of Bradworthy Parish Council, who lives near the site. “But it is not exceptional for us to have windy weather. This is a windy area, so anything that’s put up in this sort of area must be able to withstand it,” she said by phone.

Wind Turbine

The E-3120-model turbine, rising 24 meters (79 feet) from the ground, was installed in July 2010 amid opposition from some residents. It has a five-year warranty and cost about 250,000 pounds ($395,000), according to Dulas. It’s suitable for sites such as schools and hospitals, Endurance says on its website. The company couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

Turbines are designed to withstand a certain amount of wind, Matthew Rowland, an underwriter at GCube Underwriting Ltd., said by phone. “Storms and strong winds exceeding thresholds do cause turbines to fail. Whilst it doesn’t look great, it’s certainly better than something happening to a coal-power plant,” he said.

(Company corrects attribution of CEO’s comment in story that moved Jan. 30)
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