Giant Vestas wind turbine collapses in Northern Sweden

Wind turbine farm in Denmark Image: Vestas

A 230-meter tall wind turbine built by Vestas Wind Systems A/S collapsed at a site in northern Sweden over the weekend.

The cause of the accident is unknown and the company is assembling a team that will investigate at the site, spokesman Anders Riis said on Monday by phone. A lot of snow is expected this week, which may delay the work, he said. No one was injured in the incident.

Sweden is turning to the most mature renewable energy source to replace old nuclear reactors. Four reactors have shut since 2015 and several regional fossil-fuel plants have also closed. Wind output in Sweden is expected to grow by almost 50 per cent this year to 29 terawatt-hours and to as much as 45 terawatt-hours in 2023. That would be about a third of Swedish electricity demand.

“Today, even risk-averse institutional investors see onshore wind farms as a safe asset class, particularly in established markets like Sweden,” said Oliver Metcalfe, an onshore wind analyst at BloombegNEF in London. “News like this proves that it is impossible to completely eliminate construction risk, even as the industry matures.”

The 4.2-megawatt Vestas V150 turbine, among the biggest onshore facilities in the world , was one of 17 at Aldermyrberget built by developer WPD Scandinavia AB. The facility was due to start operations next month, according to information on its website. Some of the turbines have already been sending power to the grid.

Vestas has installed more than 75,000 turbines and it’s “extremely rare” that accidents like this happen, Riis said.

“We have a very comprehensive investigation process for incidents like this and we initiated that yesterday,” he said. “Now we will start collecting information and get the right people to the site.”

Investment in the wind park is probably in the region of $90 million, Metcalfe estimated. The power has already been sold via a long-term contract to a large industrial company in Sweden.

WPD chief executive officer Maria Roske didn’t respond to requests for comment. She told state broadcaster SVT that it was a very unusual accident and that it will impact the timeline for the project.

Five years ago, one of Vestas’s turbines collapsed at a site called Lemnhult, also in Sweden. The cause was found to be a lack of correct tensioning of bolts.

Vestas shares fell 1.3 per cent in Copenhagen.

© 2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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