Cause of wind turbine damage unknown

LONDON Thu Jan 8, 2009 2:48pm GMT

A wind turbine is pictured at Loftsome Bridge Treatment Works, in front of Drax Power Station near Selby, June 19, 2008. REUTERS/Nigel Roddis

A wind turbine is pictured at Loftsome Bridge Treatment Works, in front of Drax Power Station near Selby, June 19, 2008.

Credit: Reuters/Nigel Roddis

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LONDON (Reuters) - Green energy company Ecotricity is investigating what mangled a wind turbine in England over the weekend, a spokeswoman for the company said.

Press cited locals reporting a bright light at the time of the incident, in which one of the blades snapped off, and speculation that unidentified flying objects may have been responsible.

After inspecting the site, however, the Health and Safety Executive said on Thursday that the turbine at the Fen Farm wind farm in Lincolnshire had not been hit by an object. "It wasn't a collision," an HSE spokesman said, adding that investigations were continuing.

The farm's operator, Ecotricity, was ruling nothing out.

"We are carrying out investigations at the site and until those have been concluded we don't want to speculate what the cause is but we can't rule anything out," the Ecotricity spokeswoman said.

"It happened early Sunday morning or late Saturday night," she said. "It's a completely unique incident ... it's just this single turbine."

A spokesman for the manufacturer of the turbine, Germany's Enercon, said investigations were continuing.

The blades on Enercon's E-48 wind turbine are each more than 20 metres (65 ft) long, made of fibreglass and designed to withstand lightening strikes.

Enercon is one of the world's largest wind turbine manufacturers with a 14 percent global market share in 2007.

"It's a good machine," said Jefferies analyst Michael McNamara of the Enercon product.

"All turbine manufacturers suffer breaks. It's what causes the break that's the issue," he said.

Indian turbine maker Suzlon Energy had to recall blades in the United States when some cracked and broke, McNamara said.

(Reporting by Daniel Fineren and Gerard Wynn, editing by Anthony Barker)

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