Wind turbine fires don’t just burn infrastructure; they burn time and money. Incidents can result in several hours of downtime across the entire wind farm and put the affected turbine out of commission for over a year. In addition to missed-out megawatts, the resulting cost can shoot beyond $9 million as turbines increase in size and complexity. The process of repairs is lengthy, expensive, likely dangerous, and ultimately avoidable. Fire suppression systems, which act at the first sign of fire, stifle the flames before they can cause real harm to equipment, reputations, lives, and the bottom line.
Wind turbine fires can be catastrophic. Not only the asset itself but also to the individuals and the surrounding environment. For wind farm owners seeking to safeguard their assets from fire risk, undertaking an in-depth fire risk assessment (FRA) is vital. Our latest report, ‘How to Evaluate Fire Risk at Wind Farms,’ highlights the importance of FRA’s and advises the best methods for conducting them.
By 2030, 205GW of new offshore wind capacity is expected to be added globally, according to the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC). Though this growth is essential for the energy transition, it presents new and heightened challenges to the industry. From getting the energy to shore, the sea-bound commute for operations and maintenance (O&M) teams, or preventing and rapidly responding to a turbine fire in order to reduce the financial, environmental, and reputational impacts, the offshore wind industry has a new set of challenges that it must rise to.
When a fire ignites in a wind turbine, extinguishing it without having a fire suppression system installed is immensely challenging. Typically installed in remote and inaccessible locations, with turbines often more than 100m above the ground, getting fire trucks and crews to a position where they can douse flames is unlikely. If a crew could get into position and have the equipment to battle the fire, the multi-million-pound machine is likely to be a smoldering wreck. The ground crew will only be able to provide containment of the fire. This means that installing fire suppressions systems is all that more important.
Among the types of electrical fires, electrical panel fires can be some of the most concerning and damaging. The National Fire Protection Association reports that fires involving electrical malfunctions or failures contribute to the most deaths and property damage each year, especially from November to February, when the weather becomes colder. Electrical panels and their associated circuit breakers become a fire hazard when they aren’t well-maintained, when they aren’t installed correctly, or when they just plain wear out. As the center of the building’s electrical system, the more an electrical panel is damaged by a fire, the greater the downtime, need for repair and risk to people who are on the premises.
Fires in both on and offshore wind turbines can have a devastating impact on developers, investors, and all advocates for clean energy. Whether it’s the reputational damage caused by a visible and photographable incident or the immediate environmental risks like the potential spread of wildfires, it’s clear that the sector must take fire risk seriously.
As the global economy grows each year and becomes more interconnected, container yards must undertake the growing demand of moving containers and loading and unloading ships. Approximately 80 percent of goods are transported by sea with an estimated fleet of 56K merchant container ships. This puts extreme wear and demand on container handling equipment.
A container yard is a busy place. In August of 2021, the Port Authority of Los Angeles released numbers showing that over 900,000 containers were handled in that month alone, bringing the yearly tally to just over 6 million containers. Container handlers, such as cranes and reach stackers, are critical to meeting these types of productivity demands for ports everywhere. However, unpredictable equipment fires happen frequently, significantly impacting productivity.
As a business owner, having a reliable fire suppression system in place is one of the best ways to protect every part of your company, including your equipment, inventory, and employees. When it comes to class A, B, and C fires, clean agent fire suppression systems can be highly effective at eliminating a fire in its inception phase before it has the chance to grow, spread, and cause damage.
A clean agent fire suppression system is designed to minimize damage by acting quickly, suppressing a fire at the inception stage before it can grow. These systems are unique in that they are safe to use in occupied spaces, require no cleanup after discharge, don’t damage sensitive documents or equipment, and are environmentally friendly.
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.
When choosing your fire suppression system, one important thing to keep in mind is the aftermath of a discharge. While stopping the fire quickly is important, you also want to consider the impact of the fire suppression system you choose. After all, cleanup from a fire suppression event can be a long and arduous task if you choose a system that isn’t suited to your environment.