Wind Turbine Fires are Costing as Much as $2 Mil in Damage: Is NFPA 850 being ignored?

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Karatsu -- A wind turbine near a nuclear power plant caught fire.  This caused serious difficulties for firefighters who had to worry about falling parts.

A nearby resident reported the conflagration at 2:55pm.  One of the turbine blades and the base of the blades caught fire at the wind-generating power plant.  The blaze was extinguished at 6:50am the next morning. 

No one was injured. 

Firefighters had a difficult time fighting the fire.  They were unable to point water at the blades because of falling debris.

The fire is under investigation.

The wind generating power plant has been in operation since 2004.  They sell their energy to Kyushu Electric.

NFPA 850

Wind turbines are part of NFPA 850:  Recommended Practice for Fire Protection for Electric Generating Plants and High Voltage Direct Current Converter Stations, 2010.  Since 2002, 184 wind turbines have been damaged by fire.  This has cost between $750,000 to $2,000,000 each time.

 

What is causing wind turbine fires?

Wind-generated power plant fires start from a number of causes.  The most common is lightning strikes.  Wind turbines are exposed and tall, making them an easy target.

Another cause of fire in wind turbines is mechanical failure or electrical malfunction.  The hundreds of gallons of hydraulic fluid and lubricants fuels the fire.  An added fuel source is internal insulation.

Wind-generating power plants have other high-risk areas too.  Capacitors, transformers, generators, electrical controls, and transmission equipment is also susceptible to fire.

Fire Protection for Wind Turbines

Water-mist systems are an option; however, they have the potential for hurting electrical equipment.  Compressed air foam systems are also used, but the storage needs can be problematic with the remote location of most wind turbines.

Clean agent systems are a good solution.  When discharged, it vaporizes into a colorless, odorless gas.  The suppressant takes up less space to store than other solutions.  It also has a low environmental impact.

While wind-generating power plants have their pros and cons, the fact that it is an environmentally friendly energy solution is bringing more and more wind farms into the energy industry, so properly protecting them from fire needs to become a priority.

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