The answer here is relatively straightforward: not long at all. But there are various types of damage to consider in the aftermath of a wind turbine fire. It includes physical damage – the tangible, visible burnt-out shell of a multi-million dollar wind turbine. And the conceptual, reputational damage that is invisible but has the potential to become so deep-seated that it is increasingly difficult to fix.
If you own a business, you know how devastating a fire can be. Not only do fires reduce profits by damaging property and equipment as well as increasing downtime, but they are a serious safety risk for you and your employees. And while not all fires are entirely preventable, there are many steps you can take to increase your chances of preventing fires and reacting quickly when one does occur.
A lack of clarity around the accountability of fire risk management between wind farm owners and turbine manufacturers has put the wind sector at greater risk of suffering the damaging consequences of fire. Who is responsible for what? If a turbine catches fire, who is liable? The original equipment manufacturer (OEM) or the asset owner? Whose responsibility is it to ensure that turbines are equipped with fire suppression systems?
Wind energy has a crucial part to play in steering the earth away from a reliance on fossil fuels and ultimately reducing emissions and the devastating impacts of climate change. Yet when it comes to developing projects, the industry often faces local opposition from residents on tenuous grounds. But when it comes to fire risk, failing to take steps that address public concerns could result in a damaging reputational hit – particularly if a wind turbine does catch fire.
Wind turbine fires are bad news for many reasons. From developers to operators and owners, manufacturers to workers, fire incidents at wind assets can hugely negatively affect everyone. Whether by causing injuries to onsite workers, detriment to future wind projects, or intangible wounds to the reputations of all involved entities – turbine fires deeply mar the industry.
Fire departments respond to more than one million fires each year in the United States alone. And while that number has been steadily decreasing since the 1970s, fires still present the potential for extremely hazardous situations whenever they occur. But while they all burn, not all fires are the same. In order to group fires—and the ways to extinguish them—fire professionals developed a system to classify fires.
Turbine fires present significant financial and reputational risks to the wind industry. Manufacturers, project owners, and operators have all taken major steps to reduce fire risk, but to date, most wind turbine fires are covered under insurance policies. However, as renewable energy insurers tighten terms and conditions and increase premiums and rates, the wind industry may have to cover more of the cost if a turbine is destroyed by fire.
The exact industry-wide risk for wind turbine fires is hard to pin down. Statistics vary between sources from 1 in 2,000 to 1 in 15,000. As the number of operating wind turbines grows, the total number of wind turbine fires per year will increase unless owners and operators fully manage fire risk. The wind industry takes fire risk very seriously, but often, owners and operators don’t always know where to start when it comes to evaluating their wind turbine’s fire risk.
Wind farm owners and operators retrofit their wind turbines with fire suppression systems for a number of reasons. Some retrofit after losing a turbine to a fire incident, others because of internal risk analysis, and some after receiving a significant increase in insurance rates. There are both pros and cons of retrofitting fire suppression systems. We’ll help you understand if the benefits outweigh the risks of installing fire suppression systems on your fleet.
Wind turbines are multi-million dollar pieces of equipment with sensitive electronics, and from time to time, employees working inside and outside the turbine. In the case of a fire starting in the wind turbine, a fire suppression system can prevent the risk of fire loss in your turbines, but only if properly designed and with a suitable fire suppression agent. Deciding on the best fire suppression agent is important in order to protect your equipment, employees, and the environment.
Wind turbine insurance rates have increased 20-30% in the past few years due to several large claims. A fire in one of your turbines can significantly increase your insurance premiums and raise your deductible levels, causing your insurance to become even more expensive. A fire will most likely adversely affect your insurance policy, but there are ways to make your policy more favorable by mitigating fire risk before a fire incident.
The number of wind turbine fires is increasing as the number of turbines installed increases. For example, a 100-turbine wind farm is on average ten times more likely to have a fire than a 10-turbine wind farm. This trend is affecting the reputation of the industry, hardening the insurance market, and has the potential to hurt the growth of the wind industry.