Crazy week last week.
It started on Sunday with the kind of phone call I never wanted to have, telling me that one of our turbines had lost a blade. I use the word lost advisedly.
Our people were on site the same day, the manufacturers the next, and we set about looking for the cause. BTW, what we found, just to clear that up… 🙂 , was one blade at the foot of the tower (whole), one badly mangled but still attached and one apparently unharmed and still attached.
It snowballed from there… that Thursday, the Sun carried the story on its front page, fuelling the fire by claiming a blade was missing (of course it wasn’t) and the rest of the herd followed. The story ran around the world and exploded on the Net.
My Thursday started with a call from Radio 4’s Today program, at some ungodly hour, and the rest of the day was given up wholly to more radio, TV and press interviews – it was thoroughly mad. All the main TV news programs ran with it, even the broadsheets got in on the act (The Guardian claiming responsibility for the lights in the sky…! Bless) It was the kind of coverage you’d love to get for a sensible story……
Some great comments on the web, really a lot of fun – here and elsewhere. Found this one on the Guardian website:
Cows give us BSE!
Cows fart loads, releasing methane and encouraging global warming!
Cows try to sabotage our attempts at producing carbon neutral energy!
BEWARE OF COWS – They are better organised than we think!
Tickled me that one did… 🙂
To be honest we had a lot of fun with this, and that took the edge off what was otherwise a serious and very bad event for us.
But what really happened?
There were no big obvious pointers on site. No signs of ice problems. There was no foreign or dare I say ‘alien’ debris on the ground to indicate a collision and no sign of a lightning strike either. Mind you, one blade was up in the air and the other a 1 tonne dead weight on the floor, so examination was limited. But we were stumped for an answer and in those first few days it made the incredible UFO strike theory just a little more credible.
The connector (which joins the blade to the hub) – on the downed blade was cut off and sent back to Germany for some more ‘forensic’ testing, mid last week. We’ve not had any results back yet, but we keep pushing.
Oh, BTW, none of the blades will be repaired, all three will be replaced with new.
The likely culprits of this are actually quite a short list: Ice, Lightning, Collision (UFO inc), Material failure, Design failure, Maintenance failure. There’s not more.
We’ve ruled out the first two pretty absolutely. Collision we can still see no evidence for, there should be some debris on the ground (surely) and some ‘exchange’ of materials on the blade surface. We’ll get to inspect the ‘bent’ blade today – the crane arrived to rebuild this machine. It is pretty probable though as people have said here, that the fallen blade hit and broke the second blade on the way down.
The testing of the fallen blade will determine if material failure was the cause, my own feeling is that it’s not, but let’s see.
As for design fault, there are thousands of this type of machine in use, and this is the first time this has happened. It seems very unlikely.
That leaves maintenance and we’re examining the machine very closely to establish the degree to which maintenance was properly undertaken by the manufacturer.
In so far as we’ve narrowed down the options, we are closer to an understanding of what happened. But we’re not there yet. We’re left with Collision and Materials or Maintenance failure.
As for UFOs? I believe absolutely that intelligent life exists in the universe. But I doubt (as someone may have said here) that if it could get here from another galaxy it would crash into a windmill – then again accidents will happen.
The 8 tonne MOD UAV, Taranis (would that make a good car name…?), has some merit as a possible culprit (Thanks for the stats on that Peta).
But the giant space tentacle was a bit beyond the pale for me, as was the idea that aliens wanted to steal our technology – having tramped squillions of light years to find us…
All good fun. But seriously UFOs are bottom of my probability list.