According to a report from Firetrace, the lack of clarity between wind farm owners and wind turbine manufacturers regarding the ownership of fire risk management puts the industry at increased risk of suffering the damaging consequences of a fire. .
Firetrace, a provider of fire extinguishing technology with systems in place in 35 countries on five continents, said in the “Reducing Fire Risk” report that while wind turbine fires are relatively rare, when occur, they often result in the total destruction of the asset, especially if no fire plan or extinguishing technology is in place.
He said a fire can result in a reputational mark not only against the turbine manufacturer, project owner and operator, but against the entire industry.
“This may result in opposition to future plans, delaying the deployment of wind power needed to decarbonize the global energy supply and reduce emissions in line with international climate targets,” Firetrace said.
“This obvious risk has led most turbine manufacturers to shift to safer designs and materials over the past decade.”
He added that most new turbine designs no longer incorporate elements that increase the risk of sparks, such as primary mechanical braking systems or failure protocols that cause hydraulics to cycle quickly, or flammable materials that could fuel a fire.
However, Firetrace cautions owners and operators that the fire risk was not “designed” and that this effort on the manufacturer’s side is only the first step in managing the fire risk throughout. the supply chain.
Operational practices must also follow best practices to prevent catastrophic fires, he said.
Best practices for owners and operators to prevent fires from breaking out include condition monitoring and preventive rather than reactive maintenance.
Angela Krcmar, Firetrace Global Wind Sales Director, said: “In any industry, a clear chain of custody must be in place to most effectively address fire hazards, and for energy. conventional.
“However, in wind power, many owners and operators understand that wind turbine manufacturers are taking steps at the design level to reduce the risk of fire and assume that no further action should be taken on their end.
“As such, key steps to preventing and extinguishing fires may fall through the cracks due to this misunderstanding. “
“It is impossible to fully conceive of the fire risk of an asset that generates electricity – and many operating assets predate these new designs.
“Owners and operators must have a clear plan in place to detect, prevent and extinguish flames in the rare event of a turbine fire, or find that while they may have taken responsibility for the manufacturer, they will still be responsible. the cost and reputational impact of a fire.