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Disaster audit for installed wind turbines

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Disaster audit for installed wind turbines

Many of the installed wind turbines may be scrapped
(photo: CC0 Public Domain)

Up to a third of the wind turbines of one of the world’s leading manufacturers were found to be defective – with cracks in bearings and fins, according to audit data. This threatens to collapse global renewable energy capacity.

Two days ago, Siemens Energy AG announced catastrophic data, reported by the thematic publication Electrek. The audit showed a “significant increase in the failure rate of wind turbine components”.

Up to 30% of the company’s wind turbines already deployed around the world could be scrapped – that’s up to 30 GW of installed capacity, equivalent to the operation of 30 nuclear power plants. This is an unimaginable blow to the entire wind and renewable energy sector as a whole.

The problem affects between 15% and 30% of turbines made by Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy SA, a subsidiary of Siemens Energy AG, Reuters noted. Basically, these are defects in bearings and vanes – from complete destruction to cracks. At least $1.1 billion will be needed to fix the defects.

The threat of such a hole immediately weighed on Siemens Energy shares, which fell 37% on Friday. The failure dragged down the shares of European wind turbine manufacturers Nordex and Vestas, which are customers of Siemens Gamesa.

It is specified that the problem mainly affected onshore wind turbines. But it may be that the audit simply did not reach offshore turbines, as they are more difficult to inspect. In addition, the destruction of wind turbines is much more dangerous on land, as it endangers the lives and health of people.

Today, over 132 GW of wind turbines with Siemens Gamesa components are installed worldwide. This is equivalent to the operation of 132 nuclear power plants. Losing a third of that park, maybe even more, will be very, very disappointing.

“The outcome of this review turned out to be much worse than I could have imagined. The quality issues go beyond what has been known so far, especially on land,” Siemens Gamesa CEO Jochen Eickholt told reporters.

He assured that the company is working on this topic, but it takes a lot of time and costs. “While this should be clear to everyone, I would like to reiterate how bittersweet it is for all of us,” summed up the manager.

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