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An “Extraordinarily Rare Event”

“In December 2011, a wind turbine in the coastal town of Ardrossan in the UK spectacularly exploded during a storm,” reported New Scientist. “Pictures of the flaming debris shower flashed across global media, triggering claims that turbines cannot cope in extreme weather.” According to New Scientist, a Vestas wind turbine had been the star of that show.

A few months later in April 2012, according to the Crescent News, two blades broke off of a Vestas turbine in Ohio. The facility was owned by EDF Renewables. the Crescent News quoted an EDF spokesman who claimed the problem was an “extraordinarily rare event.”

But within weeks of each other in the early summer of 2012, according to Renewable Energy Magazine, fires occurred at Vestas machines in Germany and Spain.

“Given the information available, the Casa del Aire incident is an isolated case with no connection to the fire involving the V112 in Germany or any other incident concerning a Vestas wind turbine,” claimed a Vestas official.

And then Lincoln Star Journal reported another Vestas wind turbine fire in Nebraska in October 2012.

According to the Bangor Daily News, a Vestas wind turbine in Maine, near the Canadian border, caught fire in January 2013.

“Companies that operate wind farms in Maine are not currently required to report turbine fires to any state agency,” reported the newspaper in late April, explaining why it was just getting around to covering a fire that had occurred on January 16. The newspaper began the report claiming the incident had “generated concern about the safety and reliability of turbines, and the process by which these fires are reported to government officials and the public.”

In March 2013 a Vestas turbine tower collapse in Ireland, leaving wreckage that “had been strewn over a wide area,” according to one local newspaper, and “just yards from a popular cycling route” according to the Irish Independent.

An Irish radio station interviewed Vestas officials who “said such incidents are very rare” but “refused to answer questions about how many times such collapses have happened in the past.” In a statement, Vestas declined to speculate on the cause of the collapse, but ironically noted it had occurred in “very high winds.”

In April 2013, North American Windpower reported that a Vestas turbine in Ontario had caught on fire. According to the Stratford Beacon-Herald, the fire “fueled the fierce debate between those who add fire hazard to their list of reasons to hate wind turbines and those who say an isolated incident doesn’t detract from wind energy’s exceptional safety record.”

Two young Dutch workers trapped atop a turbine inferno died in October 2013. Multiple online images and videos show a “Vestas” logo on the machine, including those showing the doomed workers sharing a final hug. Two ReNews.Biz stories archived at the Wayback Machine from October 2013 and November 2013 identify the turbine as a “Vestas V66,” with the first report stating “Vestas said it was saddened by the incident and extended its sympathies to the families involved.”[1]

The German news site Soester Anzeiger posted a February 2014 account of another fire with photos of a Vestas turbine ablaze in Echtrop, Germany.

In late December 2015, according to ReNews.Biz, a Vestas turbine tower collapsed in Sweden. The report paraphrased a Vestas official who claimed that “incidents involving structural integrity are very rare.”

Eight weeks later in February 2016 the Huron Daily Tribune in Michigan reported the collapse of a “400-foot, 485,000-pound” Vestas wind turbine and tower. According to the newspaper, investigators concluded it had “shook itself apart” in a “pretty violent act” during an “overspeed event.” The reporter wrote there was a “dose of irony” involved in high winds wrecking a wind turbine.

“In Operation Less Than One Year”

In October 2016 blades broke off two different Vestas wind turbines at another wind facility in Michigan. According to the Huron Daily Tribune, the wind machines had just been turned on during the “startup phase” at the then-new Deerfield Wind Energy project. Also in October 2016, according to North American Windpower, a Vestas wind machine caught fire in Brazil.

In early January 2017, CBC News reported that a Vestas wind turbine tower “snapped in half” during a “severe wind warning” in Nova Scotia. One observer told CBC he could “see the debris was flying down towards the ocean.”

“If it’s too windy, then maybe it’s not the right place for it,” said another local Nova Scotian. “Because it is close to houses and I imagine the people up the hill . . . they must have been scared because it was right near to their house.”

The Clarendon Enterprise reported in June 2017 that a Vestas turbine had caught fire near Jericho, Texas; Offshore Energy reported in August 2017 that a Vestas turbine had burned up atop a 140-meter tower at a Denmark test facility; and in October 2017, according to Balkan Green Energy News, a Vestas turbine tower collapsed in Croatia.

A Vestas wind turbine in Iowa owned by MidAmerican Energy caught fire in May 2018, according to Perry News. It had “been in operation less than one year,” according to the newspaper.

ReNews.Biz reported that a turbine and blades simply fell off a tower in Thailand in October 2018. “Vestas said a nacelle detached from the tower and fell to the ground together with the blades,” reported ReNews.Biz. “TV pictures have shown a wrecked turbine at the foot of a relatively unscathed tower.” It was another incident involving a wind project that had “only very recently been completed and commissioned.”

A Vestas turbine in Denmark caught fire in January 2019. A TV station reported the fire spread to buildings at a nearby farm where dozens of bull calves were kept, but that none of the livestock were injured. The website featured a photo of the turbine ablaze, with the Vestas logo still visible.

A blade from a Vestas turbine in Ohio snapped off in September 2020, according to the account in Windpower Monthly. The following month in October 2020, according to ReNews.Biz, a blade fell off a “recently-commissioned” Vestas turbine in Australia. And Windpower Monthly reported the November 2020 collapse of a “newly installed” Vestas turbine tower in Sweden.

And in October 2021, Mercury Energy reported a fire had destroyed one of its Vestas turbines at the Tararua Wind Farm New Zealand. According to the New Zealand Herald, Mercury had just purchased Tararua and the Vestas turbine from another energy firm in August 2021.


[1] Curiously, as of January 2024, the pair of ReNews.Biz page addresses, each referencing the original headlines from the dramatic story, redirected to benign and unrelated ReNews.Biz reports from May and June of 2019. A request for clarification sent to ReNews.Biz in early January was acknowledged but not answered before CRC posted this analysis. Beyond the two, now oddly discarded, ReNews.Biz reports, any other original reporting naming Vestas as the maker of the turbine in the Dutch fire is (at a minimum) difficult to locate.

As noted, a Vestas logo is clearly visible in multiple online videos and photos purporting to be from the incident. There are still some secondary media accounts online that mention the original ReNews.Biz reports. National Wind Watch, a watchdog group that is skeptical of wind energy, reproduced the entire text of the November 2013 ReNews.Biz report: “Dutch Investigate Deadly Turbine Fire.”

In the next installment, wind turbines compare unfavourability with carbon-free nuclear power.

Ken Braun

Ken Braun is CRC’s senior investigative researcher and authors profiles for and the Capital Research magazine. He previously worked for several free market policy organizations, spent six…
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