Why do wind turbines break down more often?
Turbine failures are on the uptick across the world, sometimes with blades falling off or even full turbine collapses.
The instances are part of a rash of recent wind turbine malfunctions across the US and Europe, ranging from failures of key components to full collapses. A recent report says production issues may be to blame for the mysterious increase in failures.
The problems have added hundreds of millions of dollars in costs for the three largest Western turbine makers, GE, Vestas Wind Systems and Siemens Energy’s Siemens Gamesa unit; and they could result in more expensive insurance policies.
Wind turbine failures are on the uptick, from Oklahoma to Sweden and Colorado to Germany, with all three of the major manufacturers admitting that the race to create bigger turbines has invited manufacturing issues, according to a report from Bloomberg.
“It takes time to stabilize production and quality on these new products,” Larry Culp, GE CEO, said last October on an earning call, according to Bloomberg. “Rapid innovation strains manufacturing and the broader supply chain.”
Without industrywide data chronicling the rise—and now fall—of turbines, we’re relying on industry experts to note the flaws in the wind farming. “We’re seeing these failures happening in a shorter time frame on the new turbines,” Fraser McLachlan, CEO of insurer GCube Underwriting, told Bloomberg, “and that’s quite concerning.”
The push to produce bigger wind-grabbing turbines has sped production of the growing apparatuses. Bloomberg reports that Siemens has endured quality control issues on a new design, Vestas has seen project delays and quality challenges, and GE has seen an uptick in warranty costs and repairs. And this all comes along with uncertain supply chain issues and fluctuating material pricing.
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