“Massive Damage”…Large-Scale Engineering Debacle Threatens As North Sea Wind Turbine Breaks Apart!

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The pressure and rush to go green: The technical integrity of Germany’s offshore wind parks gets cast into doubt after a wind turbine comes apart after just 8 years of operation. North Sea wind turbines may prove to be inadequately designed and thus unfit for safe operation.

NDR German public television reported on the damaged Adwen M5000 turbine at the 60MW Alpha Ventus offshore North Sea wind farm off the northern coast of Germany.

Image cropped from NDR Television, “Hallo Niedersachsen”.

Housing rips away, plunges into the sea

The report was broadcast on 26 April and shows a missing turbine generator unit housing. Due to unknown reasons, the 3.5-tonne housing unit protecting the generator came undone and plunged some 90 meters into the sea. As a consequence, Bremerhaven-based turbine manufacturer Adwen has suspended operation the 5-MW fleet in the German North Sea. Technical crews are not even allowed near them until further notice – that includes 120 other turbines at two other wind parks.

The Alpha Ventus wind park is operated by energy producer EWE, which pegs the financial losses resulting from the damage at 40,000 euros daily.

Potential multi-billion euro engineering debacle

Wind industry group WAB director Andreas Wellbrock said the housing ripped away earlier this month. When shown images of the damage by an NDR reporter, Wellbrock was speechless, stating it was something he had never seen before. The turbines had been inspected 2 years earlier, and approved for further operation.

The technical failure is yet the latest setback in a series of technical woes that have hampered offshore North Sea wind energy production, and threatens to turn the entire offshore project into a multi-billion euro engineering debacle.

According to the NDR German television report here, engineering experts speculate that the mishap may be due to the failure of the mounting bolts, probably caused by cyclic loading fatigue and/or corrosion – or because they were just simply undersized. The NDR adds:

That would mean that on all other units of this type would need to be improved. A total of 126 units have been installed in the North Sea.”

According to renews.biz here:

This includes the 400MW Global Tech 1 and the 200MW Trianel Borkum West 2.1 wind farms, as well as the remaining five Adwen M5000 machines at Alpha Ventus that are running in idling mode.”

Operation suspended

Experts from manufacturer Adwen are also randomly inspecting 80 turbines operating at Global Tech 1 to determine if there are indications for similar risks. The Global Tech 1 turbines are not the same as the Alpha Ventus unit, but a “further development”.

Renews.biz reports that also Trianel’s Borkum West 2.1 offshore wind farm is offline due to DolWin 1 grid hub maintenance works by TSO TenneT.

Mad rush to go green contributed to failure?

When the pioneering Alpha Ventus wind park was put into operation in 2010, expectations were high, the NDR reports. Geologist Manfred Zeiler of the federal office for Seafaring and Hydrography implied that there was considerable pressure to get the “prototype” wind park into operation. But, the NDR reports that today policymakers “don’t want to hear anything” about pressure having been applied to get the park up and running back then.

The offshore turbines were designed for a lifetime of 20 years, but already the first has failed after just eight years. This may indicate that all the turbines of this type may be inadequate. In the NDR report, policymakers — such as Olaf Lies — place the blame on wind park investors.

“Forces of nature underestimated”?

The North Sea is notorious for its extremely harsh conditions, and many speculate that the turbines may have been under-designed. The NDR ends its report: “Perhaps the forces of nature were underestimated”.

If the forces of nature indeed were underestimated, meaning hundreds of offshore turbines already installed are technically inadequate, then Germany’s offshore wind energy problems are only just beginning.

German speakers will wish to read and watch report here. North Sea offshore parks could end up being a huge money maelstrom!

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65 responses to ““Massive Damage”…Large-Scale Engineering Debacle Threatens As North Sea Wind Turbine Breaks Apart!”

  1. A C Osborn

    Like they say “the only good one is a dead one”.
    So let’s have lot’s more good turbines.

  2. AndyG55

    Did I read somewhere they were considering some off the coast near New York?

    How to ocean wind turbines cope with Hurricanes?

    (which are, presumably going to get worse. 😉

  3. Nigel S

    I think it’s more than just the housing. The generator seems to be missing too. That falling off may have taken the housing with it. See this instruction video (from about 3:00) about safe access for the poor devils who have to maintain them. Apologies for not having watched the whole report in German. Mine is a bit rusty now unfortunately.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LNXTm7aHvWc

  4. Dave Ward

    “Financial losses resulting from the damage at 40,000 euros daily”

    What they really mean is “SUBSIDY losses resulting from the damage at 40,000 euros daily”

  5. Greg61

    Where I live in Ontario Canada, the politician who created the Green Energy Act also and simultaneously exempted wind farms from the requirement to go through an environmental assessment. An EA is required for every other type of development in the province. This is why these things are decimating migrating birds, best wind sites are also the migration routes for birds flying south in winter, and nobody did the assessments to learn this.

  6. Georg Thomas

    I’ve watched another broadcast about this event on the same channel (starting at time mark 00:35, length a little over 6 minutes). What surprised me was the critical tone of the report — rather unusual in ideologically uniform Germany.

    https://youtu.be/7B86NL7WfXM

    1. jmdesp

      There’s much more opposition and scepticism about renewable in Germany that many people think. Unfortunetely when it comes to nuclear, Germans are indeed convinced it’s the worst thing ever, so that replacing them with coal plant is net positive in term of health.

      1. Georg Thomas

        I agree with both of your points. At the same time my perception is that the media betray an almost complete bias in favour of the Energiewende. That’s why the report struck me as unusual. ARD and ZDF, still the favourites with the majority of the population, are propaganda tools of the state, churning out heaps of lies in favour of the Energiewende and green mythology in general. What makes me also furious is that my fellow-countrymen are so insensitive as to refer to these broadcasters as “Free TV” (“free tee vee”), when, in fact, ARD and ZDF are the only television channels enjoying government-enforced fees. I go to prison if I do not pay a substantial fee for “free tee vee”. So much for German double speak.

      2. Georg Thomas

        jmdesp 27, you write: “There’s much more opposition and scepticism about renewable in Germany that many people think.” For most people most of the time the Energiewende is an abstract article of faith that they are conditioned to adopt thanks to being exposed to omnipresent and permanent propaganda. As is true of many so-called environmental concerns, people are not intimately involved, only vicariously as political consumers of the prevalent state ideology. The moment the Energiewende knocks on the door of their real lives, the moment the Energiewende becomes a matter of genuinely personal experience with a person’s concrete needs and interests at stake — as when a windmill is erected right next to your house dropping shredded storks into your garden — people are reminded of their real, thoroughly personal concerns and that’s when they become sceptical and start opposing the palpable detriments lurking behind the doctrinaire blabla, as you rightly note.

  7. Curious George

    I am glad that this event got some publicity. But don’t blow it out of proportions. The article suggests that there are many such turbines. Time to time even a Porsche car fails.

    1. SebastianH

      You won’t get that kind of rationality from the skeptic community. Everything that somehow seems to confirm their belief always gets blown up. They have to do this, otherwise the general uneventfulness of renewable electricity generation could lead their followers to begin thinking that it’s actually a good thing.

      1. RicDre

        “…otherwise the general uneventfulness of renewable electricity generation …”

        The general uneventfulness of renewable electricity generation is exactly its problem, such as when the wind doesn’t blow (or blows too hard).

      2. Sheri

        SabastianH: This is very similar to the press’s constant highlighting of heat waves as evidence of global warming and completely ignoring snowstorms when discussing global warming. Do you call that the irrationality of the global warming people?

        I think people hit on these incidents because the wind sales people are much like the gypsy wagon sellers of the early 1900s in the US—they sell a tonic that fixes everything and does no harm. The occasional dropping dead of a client is not a big deal—it’s rare and the tonic is very helpful to everyone else.

  8. yonason (from my cell phone)

    Good thing this is such a rare event. I mean, if it weren’t, just think of how dangerous it might be.
    http://www.caithnesswindfarms.co.uk/accidents.pdf

  9. Mike Lowe

    “Randomly inspecting”! Surely every one of them needs inspecting?

  10. Dan Pangburn

    Wind turbines and solar voltaic consume more energy in manufacture, installation, maintenance and administration than they produce in there service life. Add energy needed to major repair/replace following disaster such as this. Their failure as an energy source is masked at present because essentially all of this energy is now provided by fossil fuels.

    The only viable solution for energy when fossil fuels run out is nuclear. It is already the safest. https://www.nextbigfuture.com/2011/03/deaths-per-twh-by-energy-source.html

    1. AndyG55

      I’m hoping thorium nuclear will become viable eventually.

      Can be small scale or large scale, and a lot less radioactive waste.

      Not that I am concerned about coal, oil gas running out.

      Many countries have only just started exploration for what down under.

      Probably a few thousand year of the stuff left.

      Just so long as we keep that atmospheric CO2 rising, to feed the world.

      Toward 700+ppm

      https://s19.postimg.cc/9xjlwqpir/Towards700.png

      1. Yonason (from a friend's comp)

        “I’m hoping thorium nuclear will become viable eventually.” – AndyG55

        I’m not expecting it any time soon, Andy. And there are some serious concerns usually not mentioned by those pushing it, even if they do get it to work.
        https://phys.org/news/2012-12-thorium-proliferation-nuclear-wonder-fuel.html

        India has been trying for a LONG time, and isn’t close yet.
        https://www.indiatimes.com/news/india-has-world-s-largest-thorium-reserves-so-why-can-t-we-use-it-as-a-source-of-clean-energy-272058.html

        It would be nice, but I’m not holding my breath.

    2. SebastianH

      Wind turbines and solar voltaic consume more energy in manufacture, installation, maintenance and administration than they produce in there service life.

      No, they don’t.

      Add energy needed to major repair/replace following disaster such as this.

      That would run under the point maintenance, wouldn’t it? We are talking about a single wind turbine here.

      Their failure as an energy source is masked at present because essentially all of this energy is now provided by fossil fuels.

      What needs to happen in the life of a person to become like this? Blatantly lying or just not knowing it better? Either possibility is frightening …

      The only viable solution for energy when fossil fuels run out is nuclear.

      A fan of nuclear power? Great! Please come up with a way to make it economical. Maybe then it can be considered a viable solution.

      1. Dan Pangburn

        The fallacy of renewables is revealed with simple arithmetic.

        5 mW wind turbine, avg output 1/3 nameplate, 20 yr life, electricity @ wholesale 3 cents per kwh produces $8.8E6.

        Installed cost @ $1.7E6/mW = $8.5E6.

        Add the cost of energy storage or standby CCGT for low wind periods. Add the cost of land lease, maintenance, administration.

        Solar voltaic and solar thermal are even worse.

        The dollar relation is a proxy for energy relation.

        Without the energy provided by other sources renewables could not exist.

        The issue is energy not economics. Nuclear is already the safest. https://www.nextbigfuture.com/2011/03/deaths-per-twh-by-energy-source.html

        1. SebastianH

          I see, so money is a proxy for energy payback? How does this new UK nuclear power plant do in your calculations then? Consuming 3 times more energy than we would ever get from it?

          See, doesn’t work. Money is a poor proxy for energy usage.

          1. Dan Pangburn

            Instead of merely guessing; a simple calculation:
            cost of 1000 mw reactor $9E9
            capacity factor = 0.9
            Design life 50 yr
            wholesale price of electricity $.03 per kWh

            10E6 kw * 50 * 365 * 24 * 0.9 * $0.03 = $11.8E9

            Apparently you have been misled.

            The statement that money is a poor proxy for energy usage probably results from failure to account for all of the energy used. Nearly everything requires energy. The earth does not charge.

      2. AndyG55

        “What needs to happen in the life of a person to become like this? Blatantly lying or just not knowing it better?”

        Yes seb, we have always wondered what happened in your poor, sad, troll-like existence.

        EMPTY and UNAWARE of basically everything.

        Brain-hosed into constant non-thinking mantra regurgitation.

        Unable to ever except anything outside his little FANTASY bubble.

        So sad.. but …. so seb. !!

      3. AndyG55

        “We are talking about a single wind turbine here.”

        NO, you are incapable of basic comprehension, seb… (as always)

        ““failure of the mounting bolts, probably caused by cyclic loading fatigue and/or corrosion “

        “has suspended operation the 5-MW fleet in the German North Sea. Technical crews are not even allowed near them until further notice – that includes 120 other turbines at two other wind parks

        1. SebastianH

          *sigh* omg, 120 first generations wind turbines might have a problem or not and people investigate. For skeptics it seems to be the end of the world or wind energy or whatever. Wishing for more failures, etc …

          It is hilarious and sad at the same time.

          1. AndyG55

            Seb shows he has ZERO understanding of manufacturing /engineering AT ALL.

            If one is suffering fatigue failures, there a really good chance MANY more are.

            His DENIAL that this is a monumental FAILURE of wind energy manufacturing is really totally HILARIOUS.

            Only the tip of the iceberg, seb.

            How many more have to come crashing down for shill-type DENIAL to realise that there is a major problem.

      4. RicDre

        “A fan of nuclear power? Great! Please come up with a way to make it economical. Maybe then it can be considered a viable solution.

        No problem, just give nuclear power the same subsidies as renewable energy and also require that all nuclear energy be purchased whether it is needed or not as is generally done with renewable energy and nuclear energy will be just as viable as renewable energy.

  11. RickWill

    The failure was a result of Climate Disruption. The wind was stronger and lighter resulting in greater stress range than designed.

  12. Val Nartin

    They are a load of junk. The blade speed has to be geared up at least 68 times, placing huge pressure of housing and gears. In Ireland wind companies were forced to depreciate their turbines down from 25 years to 14. If you look at this one, the torque shaft is turned 90 degrees by a bevel gear. The alternator is in the pillar not the nacelle.

    Wind and solar is a Ponzi scheme. Most Irish on shore companies are insolvent. They cannot pay their capital loan debts. Check the Irish Energy Blog

    1. AndyG55

      ” Most Irish on shore companies are insolvent. “

      The companies might be insolvent…

      … but you can bet the owners/CEOs etc aren’t

      Laughing all the way from the subsidy bank. !!

  13. Bitter&twisted

    I really hope this windmill failure is the start of many.
    These taxpayer-subsidised, bird-bashing, unreliable, virtue-signaling, eco-crucifixes have no role in modern society.

    1. SebastianH

      I really hope this windmill failure is the start of many.

      And there you have it, the nihilistic worldview of the skeptic community in one sentence. “Some just want to see the world burn” … I guess.

      1. Kenneth Richard

        And there you have it, the nihilistic worldview of the skeptic community

        Could you not accept that the reason we are not proponents of wind energy is not because we are “nihilistic” but because (a) they are inefficient and unreliable and provide only intermittent energy, (b) they destroy ecosystems and harm habitats and kill raptors, (c) they destroy natural landscapes, (d) they require a great deal of costly maintenance, (e) their “hidden” costs are profound but largely unreported, (f) and once they fall out of favor within the next decade or two, our pristine landscapes will be pocked with the most hideous cement-and-steel eyesores. Wind is an 18th century technology dressed up to look “green”…when it’s anything but.

        1. Yonason (from a friend's comp)

          Just a quick review of a few of the links…

          36 pages documenting structural failure
          http://www.windaction.org/posts?topic=Structural+Failure&type=Article

          179 pages of “accidents and incidents” (including human fatalities)
          http://www.caithnesswindfarms.co.uk/fullaccidents.pdf

          All that for next to no benefit whatever.
          https://www.wind-watch.org/news/2018/04/19/wind-turbines-delivering-next-nothing-to-grid-despite-hysteria/

          And at a co$t of trillion$

        2. Yonason (from a friend's comp)

          (lost another one here, Pierre)

        3. Bitter&twisted

          Well said, Kenneth.
          I look forward to a bright future of increased plant productivity, more biodiversity and less poverty.
          Something that increased CO2 is already delivering.
          Unfortunately the neo-Luddites are obsessed with destroying this with their absurd and illogical demonisation of fossil fuels.

        4. SebastianH

          Could you not accept that the reason we are not proponents of wind energy is not because we are “nihilistic”

          Excuse me, what would you call it when someone wished that nuclear power plants would experience failures?

          (a) they are inefficient and unreliable and provide only intermittent energy,

          How are they inefficient? As a whole, they deliver electricity quite predictably.

          (b) they destroy ecosystems and harm habitats and kill raptors,

          You aren’t implying that fossil fuel electricity generation is better for ecosystems? Are you?

          (c) they destroy natural landscapes,

          Sure …

          (d) they require a great deal of costly maintenance

          So?

          (e) their “hidden” costs are profound but largely unreported,

          You are kidding, right? The “hidden” costs? What are the hidden costs compared to fossil fuel power plants?

          (f) and once they fall out of favor within the next decade or two, our pristine landscapes will be pocked with the most hideous cement-and-steel eyesores

          Why would they “fall out of favor”? And if so, why do you think they won’t be dismantled correctly? Do you share the same fear regarding nuclear power plants or any other power plant?

          Wind is an 18th century technology dressed up to look “green”…when it’s anything but.

          Oh dear, you really dislike them … why not go out and sabotage some wind mills “to show them” how old school and failure prone this technology is?

          I’d say it is very green at just 11 gCO2/kWh instead of 500 to 1000 gCO2 per kWh from conventional power plants.

          1. Kenneth Richard

            Excuse me, what would you call it when someone wished that nuclear power plants would experience failures?

            Uh, nuclear power? He wasn’t writing about nuclear power. He was writing about wind, SebastianH! That wasn’t clear enough from this comment?

            “I really hope this windmill failure is the start of many. These taxpayer-subsidised, bird-bashing, unreliable, virtue-signaling, eco-crucifixes have no role in modern society.”

            (a) they are inefficient and unreliable and provide only intermittent energy,

            How are they inefficient?

            Intermittency means inefficiency. Too much, flooding demand. Too little, meaning fossil fuel back up is needed. It’s not reliably available when needed.

            You aren’t implying that fossil fuel electricity generation is better for ecosystems?

            6 New Papers Unsheathe A Hushed-Up ‘Green’ Reality: Habitats Are Being Destroyed By Wind Turbines

            (c) they destroy natural landscapes,

            Sure …

            Who cares that our natural landscapes are being ruined by these massive cement-and-steel monstrosities, right?

            (d) they require a great deal of costly maintenance

            So?

            Who pays for that subsidized maintenance? Rich people? No. The burden mostly falls on those who can least afford it.

            Why would they “fall out of favor”?

            Krekel and Zerrahn, 2017
            We show that the construction of wind turbines close to households exerts significant negative external effects on residential well-being … In fact, beyond unpleasant noise emissions (Bakker et al., 2012; McCunney et al., 2014) and impacts on wildlife (Pearce-Higgins et al., 2012; Schuster et al., 2015), most importantly, wind turbines have been found to have negative impacts on landscape aesthetics (Devine-Wright, 2005; Jobert et al., 2007; Wolsink, 2007). … We show that the construction of a wind turbine within a radius of 4,000 metres has a significant negative and sizeable effect on life satisfaction.

            Oh dear, you really dislike them … why not go out and sabotage some wind mills “to show them” how old school and failure prone this technology is?

            Because I’m not an eco-terrorist.

          2. AndyG55
      2. AndyG55

        Hopefully many of those that GREEDILY took the subsidies will end up on bankrupt corner as the whole superfluous junk edifice comes crashing down.

        Except, you can bet it will only be the company, NEVER the owner.

      3. AndyG55

        seb , I hope you have invested heavily in wind and solar 🙂

        1. SebastianH

          Are you invested in coal?

          1. AndyG55

            EVASION.. the seb tactic of choice.

            No, but I’m not a shill for coal. Just any RELIABLE CHEAP supply-on-demand source that doesn’t need manic subsidies and feed-in rules to exist.

            My whole life is totally invested in CO2 though, its absolutely and totally essential for my life’s existence.

            Just like yours is.

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  15. Yonason (from a friend's comp)
    1. AndyG55

      https://wattsupwiththat.com/2017/06/13/wind-power-fails-in-canada-a-23-year-life-span-not-likely-to-be-replaced/

      ““TransAlta is very interested in repowering this site. Unfortunately, right now, ,strong>it’s not economically feasible,” …..

      “We’re anxiously waiting to see what incentives might come from our new government. . ”

      Wasn’t someone here telling us all the wind is really cheap ???

      Subsidy Farming !!!

      1. yonason (from my cell phone)

        Cash cow milking.

  16. Dennis

    It’s unfortunate that Germany’s rush to go green has pushed them to utilize turbines that aren’t holding up. I’m surprised that they didn’t spend more time researching and investing in better equiptment, with constant testing for the conditions. Implementing test management could have saved them plenty of time and money, making constant ajustments to the software in the machine. Hopefully Germany will be able to find a quick solution, because it could be devastating to them financially!

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