Understanding Wind Turbine Fire Safety | AltEnergieMag (2023)

A staggering 90% or more of wind turbine fires originate in the nacelle. The nacelle contains the gearbox, generator, controls, low and high speed shafts, and brake, and it (the nacelle) is located at the top of the tower.

Understanding Wind Turbine Fire Safety | AltEnergieMag (1)

Understanding Fire Safety in Wind Turbines

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28.09.21, 05h40 |solar energy,Other renewable energies|Stat-X® Condensed Aerosol Fire Suppression|fire protection,maintenance,Security

Mankind is believed to have existed since 5000 B.C. Chr. uses wind power. Historically, Europeans, particularly the Dutch, are best known for their innovative use of windmills. But before the turn of the century, you're unlikely to find many people (at least in the United States) who care deeply about the subject of this article.

It was only after the oil shortages of the 1970s that significant advances in alternative energy sources began to be made. And it wasn't until the 1990s and 2000s that the federal government began to take a proactive and aggressive role in promoting renewable energy sources, including wind power.

The reasons for the increased use of wind power, beyond the simple need for alternative energy sources, may be obvious, but the following are some of the most important:

  • It's aclean fuel source that does not emit pollutants like power plants that rely on burning fossil fuels.

  • Wind power is ahousehold power source that is generally abundant throughout the world.

  • wind power isconsistent. As long as the wind blows on this earth, energy can be obtained from it.

    (Video) Taking The Emergency Exit From A Wind Turbine

The proven value of wind power as a renewable energy source is unquestionable. But like most useful things, it doesn't come without a hefty price tag. A typical commercial wind turbine (2-3 MW capacity) can cost $2.5-$4 million, and just one can cost $40,000-$50,000 per year to operate and maintain.

Of course, these “beasts” (ranging from 300 to over 600 feet in total height) must be protected from damage and/or destruction using solid, proven best practices. The second most common cause of accidents in wind turbines is fire,and fire is one of the most common factors leading to property and even personnel loss in wind turbine failures and/or accidents. Therefore, an informed and proactive approach to preventing and extinguishing fires within this renewable energy source is mandatory for all interested parties.

What is the most common cause of a fire in a wind turbine?

A staggering 90% or more of wind turbine fires originate in the nacelle.The nacelle contains the gearbox, generator, controls, low and high speed shafts and brake, and (the nacelle) sits on top of the tower (the part that supports the turbine frame and rotor blades ). The ways these fires usually start are:

  • Lightning (consider how far above the ground/in the air these arresters are)

  • Electrical malfunction/mechanical failure

  • Maintenance activities (if personnel were present and at risk)

What happens when a wind turbine catches fire?

Around 90% of wind turbine fires result in significant damage or total loss of the wind turbine, as well as significant downtime and therefore further economic damage.This is because the typical response is to simply wait for the fire to go out. In addition, burning materials that fall to the ground or are blown by the wind can pose a significant risk of fire spread, and consequent damage and casualties, to the ground and/or surrounding property.

The catastrophic loss(es) described above can be easily and inexpensively avoided by employing proper fire suppression techniques, discussed in more detail below.

First of all, what can be done to prevent a fire in a gondola or a wind turbine?

When it comes to fire protection for wind turbines (prevention and suppression), best practices include passive and active fire protection measures.

Passive fire protection is basically what the term “passive” implies, that is, fire protection that, once implemented, no longer requires active action. Some examples of passive fire protection for wind turbines are:

  • Selection of non-combustible materials during construction (in this case especially the gondola)

  • Selection/use of non-flammable hydraulic and lubricating oils

  • Separation of the gondola area

  • Installation of lightning protection systems.

    (Video) How Wind Turbine Fire Suppression Works | Firetrace

  • Install systems to monitor the health of components/devices

So what are the best and most effective systems after a wind turbine fire?

Regardless of the extent of passive fire protection measures used, it can never be assumed that a fire will not occur. And if a fire does occur, immediate action is required, especially before an undetected, very small, distant fire escalates into a fire that significantly damages or completely destroys a wind turbine.

In the event of a wind turbine fire (like many other industrial fires), active fire protection includes:

  • Instant fire detection

  • Immediate activation of fire alarm systems.

  • Fast-Acting Fire Suppression Systems

The most widespread and effective fire extinguishing systems in wind turbines are aerosol systems. A connected smoke/heat detector sends a signal to the aerosol system, which immediately activates a discharge of extinguishing agent. The fire will be extinguished almost as quickly as it started, minimizing the risk of extensive property damage and possible loss of life.

All wind turbines must be equipped with an intelligent fire detection and aerosol suppression system. The cost of such a system is minimal; However, in the event of a fire, the cost of not having such a system would likely be catastrophic.

Therefore, a proactive approach to wind turbine fire safety is essential. A simple and unobtrusive installation of a proven detection and suppression system is essential for these tight, remote and expensive installations.

The content and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of AltEnergyMag.

Understanding Wind Turbine Fire Safety | AltEnergieMag (2)

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28.09.21, 05h40 |solar energy,Other renewable energies|Stat-X® Condensed Aerosol Fire Suppression|fire protection,maintenance,Security

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