THE DANGERS OF WIND POWER
August 31, 2007
After the wind energy's recent boom years, providers and experts are now concerned. Energy facilities may not be as reliable and durable as producers claim. Indeed, with thousands of mishaps, breakdowns and accidents reported in recent years, the difficulties seem to be mounting, says Der Spiegel magazine.
Consider some of the problems in Germany, the global leader when it comes to wind power:
- In December of last year, fragments of a broken rotor blade landed on a road shortly before rush hour traffic near the city of Trier.
- Two wind turbines caught fire near Osnabrück and in the Havelland region in January; the firefighters could only watch: Their ladders were not tall enough to reach the burning casings.
- The same month, a 70-meter (230-foot) tall wind turbine folded in half in Schleswig-Holstein -- right next to a highway.
- The rotor blades of a wind turbine in Brandenburg ripped off at a height of 100 meters (328 feet); fragments of the rotors stuck into a grain field near a road.
One of the main reasons for the mishaps is that generous government subsidies have transformed wind power into a billion-euro industry within just a few years, says Der Spiegel. But it is precisely the industry's prodigious success that is leading to its technological shortcomings. Even among insurers, who raced into the new market in the 1990s, wind power is now considered a risky sector. "Many companies have sold an endless number of units," said engineer Manfred Perkun. "It hardly leaves any time for testing prototypes."
Source: Simone Kaiser and Michael Fröhlingsdorf, "The Dangers of Wind Power," Der Spiegel, August 20, 2007.
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