Huge Vestas Wind Turbine Collapses in Northern Sweden in Rare Accident

By Lars Paulsson | November 23, 2020

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% 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 cite called Lemnhult, also in Sweden. The cause was found to be a lack of correct tensioning of bolts.

Vestas shares fell 1.3% in Copenhagen.

Source: The blades and nacelle of a wind turbine manufactured by Vestas Wind Systems A/S operates at the Botievo wind farm operated by DTEK Holdings Ltd. in Botievo, Ukraine, on Thursday, May 26, 2016. DTEK is controlled by Ukrainian billionaire Rinat Akhmetov. Photo credit: Bloomberg.

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