There’s a bit of a breeze this evening in Scotland…

By DeusExMacintosh

…like, up to 250km per hour in places.

Yes, it’s killing wind turbines.

A £2 million, 100 metre tall wind turbine catches fire in hurricane-force winds at Ardrossan, North Ayrshire, Scotland. The wind turbine was spinning so fast it caught fire. The engine of the giant turbine went up in flames and its blades were blackened by smoke. The turbine was one of 15 set up on hills overlooking the Scottish coast, built to supply green electricity to 20,000 homes.

The Telegraph


  1. Patrick
    Posted December 9, 2011 at 9:10 am | Permalink

    Stupid wind turbines, I’ve never understood why they were supposed to be a good idea. Coal, gas and nuclear plants are all rather wind-resistant, last I checked 😉

    I’ve been in 160km/h winds and that’s not funny at all. I can’t realistically imagine 250km/h.

  2. Miss Candy
    Posted December 9, 2011 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    Yes but apparently nuclear power can’t resist tsunamis and earthquakes – and the results are worse than a bit of fire.

    And I suspect, but of course cannot prove, that extreme weather events like 250kph winds are caused by things such as the overuse of coal and gas power. So there you go.

    Wind ahoy!

  3. Miss Candy
    Posted December 9, 2011 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    …LE that’s not just gale force! That’s insanely fast!

  4. Patrick
    Posted December 9, 2011 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    lol you ‘cannot prove it’…!!

    My word you can’t.

  5. kvd
    Posted December 9, 2011 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    If the wind reaches a mean speed of 34 knots or more over any ten consecutive minutes, then that day is classed as having a gale. Over most inland areas of the region the average is around 5 days per year but places sheltered to the west experience fewer than this and well exposed upland areas have over 20 days with gale in an average year.

    Miss Candy is right. 250 kph is about 135 knots – i.e. 4 times the classification of galeforce mentioned in the above clip from the Met Office. What I can’t find is how often this sort of extreme occurs, and if those towers allow for such extremes?

    I suppose the designers might say two out of three ain’t bad…

  6. kvd
    Posted December 9, 2011 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

    Wikipedia on turbine design talks about ‘survival speed’ here as follows:

    All wind turbines are designed for a maximum wind speed, called the survival speed, above which they do not survive. The survival speed of commercial wind turbines is in the range of 40 m/s (144 km/h, 89 MPH) to 72 m/s (259 km/h, 161 MPH). The most common survival speed is 60 m/s (216 km/h, 134 MPH).

    So 250 km/h is right up there.

  7. Mark Duffett
    Posted December 10, 2011 at 6:21 am | Permalink

    Nuclear plants demonstrably can survive earthquakes and tsunamis. After all, all but one (the oldest) did, several in areas that were hit even harder than Fukushima Daiichi.

  8. Adrien
    Posted December 10, 2011 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

    My word you can’t.

    You can’t prove any individual extreme weather event is caused by AGW but if there’s a lot more of them and regularly, well it tends to boost the theory somewhat.

    Shame about the simple solution ‘ey?

  9. Posted December 10, 2011 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

    Re: survival speed of wind turbines. The problem is apparently their insistence on using such big ones – the far ends of the blades end up spinning stupidly fast compared to where they meet at the centre and this generates terrific shear. In high wind areas it may make more sense to opt for vertical axis turbines but they don’t seem to be used much on a commercial basis as yet.

  10. TerjeP
    Posted December 10, 2011 at 8:25 pm | Permalink

    The figures I have seen say that deaths per TWh of energy produced are as follows:-

    Wind – 0.15
    Nuclear – 0.04

    Nasty stuff that wind power. And now we find that turbines explode when exposed to wind. They really should be prohibited in windy regions.

  11. Adrien
    Posted December 12, 2011 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

    Nasty stuff that wind power.

    I wonder if they’ll be an increase in certain types of health problem in Okuma years from now.

    One thing that strikes me about the discourse on nuclear energy is that there really isn’t that much of a frank discussion of the consequences. It’s true that the stuff is safer than before, and it’s also true that there’s an emotional prejudice against it that obfuscates disinterested consideration.

    But if we think it’s nothing to worry about we’re kidding ourselves.

  12. Posted December 14, 2011 at 7:27 am | Permalink

    There was a good article a little while back on online opinion about nuclear power based on thorium being a lot safer than uranium (safety system is based on salt rather than water and waste is less toxic for only a couple of hundred years instead of thousands). India was recently reported in the guardian to be commissioning more of these.

  13. Mel
    Posted December 14, 2011 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    Hmmm. Thank goodness I’ve never experienced that kind of wind.


    “Wind – 0.15
    Nuclear – 0.04

    Nasty stuff that wind power.”

    The figure you cite re wind is an estimate by the Next Big Future blog and is based largely on assumptions about manufacturing accidents.

    Coal has several hundred times more fatalities than wind according to the same blog.

    Wind also kills large numbers of birds and insectivorous microbats, with the latter having a significant impact on agriculture according to some studies.


    “All hard questions to answer, and no glib responses from either advocates for nuclear power or wind/solar power cut the mustard with me.”

    I agree. Crystal ball gazing is just too difficult on the energy topic. The idea of solar power makes me feel all fuzzy and warm but I have no idea whether future tech improvements will make it a serious contender for mainstream base load power supply at some future point.

  14. kvd
    Posted December 15, 2011 at 2:46 am | Permalink

    Regarding the stats, I thought Lorenzo, in particular, might appreciate this

  15. Posted December 16, 2011 at 10:23 am | Permalink

    [email protected] ROFL

  16. Posted December 16, 2011 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    A work colleague has cited to me, regarding windpower and illness, a European study that reports of health effects were directly correlated with property lines. People who were paid to have windturbines on their property reported far less illness connected to the windturbines than folk in nearby properties who did not receive financial compensation.

    Mpney does cure ills 🙂

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