A lack of clarity between wind farm owners and turbine manufacturers around ownership of fire risk management is putting the industry at greater risk of suffering the damaging consequences of fire.
This is according to Firetrace, a leading provider of fire suppression technology with systems in place across 35 countries in five continents.
While wind turbine fires are relatively rare, when one does occur, it often results in the total destruction of the asset, particularly if no fire plan or suppression technology is in place. This can lead to a financial loss of between $7-8 million, with damage going beyond the balance sheet.
A fire can result in a reputational mark against not only the turbine manufacturer, project owner, and operator, but the entire industry which can result in opposition to future projects.
Most new turbine designs no longer incorporate elements that increase the risk of sparks, such as primary mechanical braking systems or failure protocols that result in rapid cycling of hydraulics, or flammable materials that could fuel a fire.
However, Firetrace cautions owners and operators that the risk of fire has not been ‘designed out.’
It is impossible to completely design out fire risk from an asset that generates electricity – and many assets in operation pre-date these new designs.
Owners and operators must have a clear plan in place for detecting, preventing, and putting out flames in the rare event of a turbine fire because they will still be liable for the cost and reputational impact of a fire.
Best practice for owners and operators to prevent fires from starting includes condition monitoring and preventative rather than reactive maintenance.
Reference- Firetrace website and report, Wind Insider, Mercom India