Category Archives: Weather

Crestfallen

While it’s still quite fresh in my mind and following a related chat with my dad on the weekend I wanted to write about this picture.

Last week winds in Scotland were the strongest they have been this century. A photographer captured this stunning image of two wind turbines safely shut down with no adverse effects as they are designed to do. Oh yeah and there’s this one in the middle which didn’t.

A wind turbine going wrong

When I saw this picture on the front page of the BBC News website, my heart sank. I just knew that this photograph is going to be used by anti wind energy campaigners for decades to come. When there is a strong wind (over 56 mph), turbines are pointed away from the wind and their brakes engaged (this is basically a huge car disc brake) as you can see in this picture the one on fire is pointed in exactly the opposite direction to the two that aren’t.

The other point that has to be made is that there are over 4 Gigawatts of wind power capacity in the UK now. Making the reasonable assumption that the average turbine capacity is 1 Megawatt (the newest turbines are usually around 2.5 MW on-shore) then we can say there are 4,000 wind turbines installed in the UK. So a very very windy situation led to 1 in 4,000 turbines failing catastrophically. Or to put it another way 3,999 in 4,000 turbines shut down as they were supposed to in a completely boring way. How disappointing!

PB

Update: I learned yesterday (16 Dec) that a grid fault put part of Hunterston B nuclear plant offline during the same storm. That’s in addition to well over 100 thousand homes being without power.