Two recent incidents could hurt Danish wind turbine manufacturer Vestas' reputation, which has suffered from credibility problems over the past year due to massive layoffs, earnings revisions and a major corporate restructuring.
The first incident involves a Vestas wind turbine that caught fire at the Gross Eilstorf wind farm in Lower Saxony, Germany, on March 30. According to the company, the V112-3.0 MW turbine – a new Vestas turbine model – had been working properly before the fire broke out.
Vestas said that safe access to the wind turbine was still possible and that the fire was burning under ‘controlled conditions.’
In addition to disconnecting the affected turbine from the power grid, Vestas shut down three other V112 wind turbines located nearby. The wind farm's remaining 13 V112 turbines are running as usual, the company said.
As a precaution, Vestas also reviewed its entire fleet of V112 wind turbines and concluded that the rest of the units were operating as intended.
The V112 wind turbine – a 3 MW machine – is Vestas' largest onshore wind turbine, and it is unclear whether its larger capacity contributed at all to the incident. The company said it was launching a full investigation into the cause of the fire and that a third party has been engaged in the analysis.
A spokesperson for Vestas told NAW that the company is aiming to release the findings of the investigation by next week.
No injuries were reported in relation to the fire. However, a separate incident has resulted in the injury of a worker at the Macarthur Wind Farm, a massive 420 MW wind project in Australia jointly developed by AGL Energy and Meridian Energy.
Although Vestas did not state the source of the injury, the company said that Leighton Contractors, which manages the wind farm site, is investigating the matter. However, the company did rule out some causes.
"Vestas can confirm that the injured worker was not crushed by a wind turbine or a wind turbine blade," the company said in a statement.
Despite its recent troubles, Vestas remained the No. 1 wind turbine manufacturer in the world in 2011, capturing 12.9% global market share, according to a recent study by MAKE Consulting.
Nonetheless, more bad news may be pending. Vestas warned in January that if the production tax credit for wind energy is not extended beyond this year, the company will lay off an additional 1,600 employees in the U.S.
Photo courtesy of Vestas Wind Systems A/S