Wind turbines have seen a steady increase in size since the early 2000s, with both the height of the tower and the length of the blades growing to generate more energy. Wind turbines are typically measured by their “hub height,” which refers to the distance from the ground to the middle of the turbine’s rotor. The average hub height for utility-scale, land-based turbines increased by 59% between 1998 and 2020 – bringing it to 90 meters (295 feet), roughly the same size as the Statue of Liberty.
The hub height of offshore turbines is projected to increase even further. In 2016, they had an average hub height of 100 meters (330 feet) and are set to increase to 150 meters (500 feet) by 2035.
The increased size of the turbines allows for greater energy generation capacity. In 2020, the average capacity of a newly installed wind turbine in the US was between 2.7-3.5MW. An increase of 8% in 2019 and 284% from 1999. This increase in size and capacity means that more power can be generated on any given wind farm, reducing manufacturing and maintenance costs, and maximizing yield on the site.
It is clear that bigger means better. These larger turbines can generate more energy by harnessing more wind, which is a positive development for the sector’s energy transition. However, increasing turbine size also increases the magnitude of the consequences when it comes to fire risk in wind turbines.
While increasing the hub height increases exposure to higher wind speeds, meaning a turbine can generate higher amounts of energy – it also means investors are putting more capital into singular units. Therefore, more is at risk if anything happens to the asset.
Even at their current hub height, turbines are typically located in remote locations to lessen the impact they have on local communities and to take advantage of better wind resources. While this is very advantageous for projects in regard to permitting, it does mean that if a turbine catches fire, it is unlikely to be extinguished before significant damage occurs.
In addition, there is an element of unknown territory that comes with these larger turbines. Fires occur most commonly at the turbine’s rotor, the highest part of the turbine. As turbines increase in height, so must firefighting equipment to enable firefighters to access the seat of the fire.
During the early stages of larger turbines entering the market, it is even more likely that fires that are difficult to combat will result in total loss of the asset.
Bigger turbines cost more money – the bigger the size and capacity, the bigger the cost. So, to lose one turbine due to fire can be costly, to repair or, more likely, replace. But it also means your project is down on the amount of power it’s producing – which is also very costly. This isn’t ideal for the financials of a project and can raise concerns from the local community as well as investors.
In order to encourage investors to make these larger investments and increase their own risk, developers need to put their minds at ease by taking relevant precautions to protect these giant assets – including installing fire suppression technology.
As turbines get bigger, so does the impact on operations and balance sheets, should one catch fire. It is a little bit like placing all your eggs in one basket – that’s all good and well until that basket gets dropped, and you break all your eggs.
As the global clean energy transition continues apace, and we become more dependent on renewable energy, installing fire suppression technology will become essential as turbines increase in size, to ensure energy providers can serve the demand of their customers, safeguard their own operations, and maximize return for investors.
* Bu sitenin tüm içeriği; metin, grafik, logo, resim, fotoğraf, resim, teknik ve bilimsel çizimler, ses-video klipler, animasyon ve video kayıtları, programlar, bunlarla sınırlı olmamak üzere her türlü teknik unsur ve bunlara ilişkin her türlü haklar dahil olmak üzere, halen yürürlükte olan ve ileride yürürlüğe girecek olan Türkiye Cumhuriyeti Mevzuatı, Site ve içeriği ile doğrudan veya dolaylı olarak ilgili tüm Uluslararası Mevzuatlar tarafından korunmaktadır. NERO Endüstri Savunma Sanayi A.Ş.'nin yazılı izni olmaksızın yukarıda belirtilen unsurların kullanılması, alıntı yapılması, kopyalanması, çoğaltılması, dağıtılması, başka bir bilgisayara yüklenmesi, iletilmesi, değiştirilmesi, ticari amaçla elde tutulması kısmen veya tamamen, doğrudan veya dolaylı olarak, aynen veya değiştirilerek yasaktır. .Ş., söz konusu faaliyetleri teşvik etmek; bunlarla sınırlı olmayan ve bunlarla ilgili her türlü haksız fiil de yasaktır.