User login


You are here

Topic 6: Wind energy

Henry Tan's picture


victor.adukwu's picture

Discuss safety in
wind energy

Wind turbines provide renewable, alternative energy to
power homes, businesses and municipal structures such as streetlights. Turbines
are most often arranged in arrays called wind farms, and these can be located
on land or offshore. The turbines have their share of safety issues that wind
farm developers should take into account when building and placing turbines.

The spinning blades of wind turbines pose a risk to birds
and bats that accidentally fly into them. Part of the reason is placement. The
"Seattle Times" reported in 2010 that the wind
turbines in the Altamont Pass, near the San Francisco Bay Area, were
unwittingly placed along a migratory route. A 2005 a "USA Today" article placed the annual bird kill total at Altamont at
about 4,700, but the article called this number conservative. The "Seattle
Times" notes that despite modifications
made since then, over 1,600 birds may still die at Altamont each year.
Estimates made by surveyors place the number of bird and bat deaths from wind
turbines in Washington and Oregon at 6,500 and 3,000, respectively. [Cited 2012
Sep. 30]. Available from

There are so many people die in car accident each year around the world. 

As per your argument we should stop driving car.

Indirect death because of coal base power plant is much higher than bird death happened because of wind turbine. 

victor.adukwu's picture

Discuss safety in
wind energy

 Wind turbines are
large generators that utilize the power of the wind to convert mechanical
energy into electrical energy for use by electrical devices. A single wind
turbine generates a minimal amount of electricity by itself, so it must be
joined to others into wind farms that cover large tracts of land, tying the
turbines into their environments.

All sources of energy have some environmental impact, yet
the effects of wind power are very different from the effects of traditional
fossil fuel or even nuclear energy. The benefit of wind turbines can be felt
worldwide. The disadvantages, on the other hand, are primarily local.

Wind turbines cause no actual emissions throughout their
operation and subsequent generation of electricity. This means that, for every
equivalent unit of energy substituted from fossil fuels, wind turbines prevent
the release of greenhouse gases and air pollutants, which warm the planet and
contribute to serious health effects such as cardiovascular and respiratory

In 2006 the American Wind Energy Association found that the
24 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity produced by wind energy had the
beneficial effect of preventing the release of 15 million tons of carbon
dioxide, 76,000 tons of sulphur dioxide and 36,000 tons of nitrogen oxides that
otherwise would have been released by the equivalent amount of energy generated
from the average utility fuel mix  [Cited
2012 Oct. 30]. Available from

Some emissions do occur during the designing, manufacturing,
transportation and erection of wind turbines. This entire process is known as
the total fuel cycle. The emissions generated from the total fuel cycle of wind
turbines are relatively small: 1 percent of coal emissions and 2 percent of natural
gas emissions per unit of electricity generated [Cited 2012 Oct. 30]. Available

Wind turbines have negative effects on their immediate
environment such as erosion, noise and visual obstruction, but these problems
can be somewhat obviated through good design and eventual technological

Deinyefa S. Ebikeme's picture

I would imagine it’s safe, environmentally friendly
where the wind is free and with modern technology it can be captured
efficiently (as long as you do not mind seeing loads of wind turbines in the
countryside), but an argument could be made for the possibility of it affecting
the weather in another part of the world, i.e. the butterfly effect (a
butterfly flaps its wings in surrey and a hurricane happens in Japan) which the
analytical proves are yet to be provided (2).

Also, wind generators can turn at quite a clip and
are known to be dangerous to birds flying through their path and other fatalities
as listed out by
the Caithness Windfarm Information Forum 2012
(3) based in Great Britain that keeps data on wind-power-related
accidents and/or design problems. Where homeowners have already grown tired of
the noise and other wind-turbine-generated problems
such as when a wind farm intercepts the flight path of a migration,
that migration can easily be destroyed. The effects of major changes on the
ecology have a way of manifesting themselves in surprising and not always
pleasant ways. This cause and effects could be optimised for better
satisfaction with the advanced technology in place and it’s less compared to
other energy technology consequences (5). 

As to affecting weather in another part of the world, that other part of
the world is the countryside downwind of the wind farm, where a reduction in
wind velocity can have all manner of effects on evaporation, fertilization,
temperature, and other critical weather and agrarian features in the immediate
It can’t be denied that wind turbines (50-500kW turbines) which generate 25.8% of the 17.7% of renewable
energy of world power generation in 2011 needed to be a part of our domestic
energy solution(1). It is clear that the industry still has several
issues to overcome but we must note that there isn’t any system that is 100
percent effective, there are always
sacrifices and hindrances which could be


BP statistical review of world energy 2012.




Fundamental Safety Engineering and Risk Management
Concepts, 2012/2013 by H. Tan and M.J. Baker







Deinyefa Stephen EBikeme


Discussion Topic 6:
Discuss safety in wind energy.

Unlike fossil power sources, wind
energy consumes no fuel and does not emit air pollutants. It is thus
environmentally friendly.

There are however safety issues
associated with wind energy and a number of cases have been reported over the
past years for example the German turbine fire, catastrophic Danish turbine
accident (22/02/2008) and Ardrossen wind firm fire (8 December 2011) among
others. Some accidents have affected workers transporting, erecting and
maintaining the turbines. Wild life fatalities have also been reported. Collision of flying
Bats and Birds with wind turbines results in many fatalities.

Wind turbines also emit noise as they
rotate (aerodynamic noise of blades) which may have severe impacts on the human
ears especially if the turbines are located near homes. The materials used for making
wind turbines like steel concrete and aluminium are at times heavy and pose
risks of the turbines falling off leading to death especially during heavy  winds. Wind power is also un reliable in
freezing temperatures because ice formation on turbines bladescould have a
serious impact on the operation efficiency of the turbines thus it is important
to study the weather patterns of  a given
area before considering this technology. Metallic materials are used during the
manufacture of wind turbine blades hence there are risks oflightning strikes
leading to turbines shedding apart of the blade or the wholeblade (mechanical

Oscillating shadows due to rotating
blades leads to optical disturbances of residents thus wind turbines/ farms
need to be isolated from houses, streets, roads where the population is high to
ensure safety. Wind turbines are also prone to fires especially if not well
maintained, overheating could occur due to expired lubricants and stressed

Offshore wind turbines may also pose
some safety risks to boats and ships thus proper safety measures need to be in

In conclusion, I think wind energy is a
better alternative as opposed to fossil fuels provided the above associated
risks are put in consideration while designing and installing wind turbines.


John Bosco Aliganyira

Msc.Oil and Gas Eng.


Add to e-Shelf

2.Wind energy systems for electric
power generation by M. Stiebler , 2008

3.Advances in wind energy and conversion technology Sathyajith Mathew;
Susan Philip; , 2011.

Mark Nicol's picture

I would like to expand on some the hazards for the
installation/erection of Wind Turbines. Firstly we are in the construction
business and working at heights is inevitable. Installation/erection of Wind
Turbines will at some point require working at height.

 Fortunately we have
regulations in place (Ref 1) to ensure the dangers of working at height are
reduced to as low as reasonably practical (ALARP).

The first thing we should do when managing working at height, is
to determine if it is necessary?

If working at height is unavoidable, we manage the risk by planning
properly i.e. is there suitable equipment for the task? Is it certified? Also
when working at height there is the potential for dropped objects. A sweep for
any loose objects will be required before any work takes place at height. By
risk assessing the job in hand and identifying the risk potential we can reduce
the working at height risks.

I’d like to expand on your point that turbine blades can ice over.
This is a good point as there doesn’t seem to be much guidance on exclusion
zones for wind turbines. In offshore subsea architecture for instance, offshore
platforms, FPSO’s (Floating Production Storage and Offloading) vessels, subsea
wellheads and drilling rigs etc. the exclusion zone is 500 meters to protect
the moorings and subsea assets from damage.

Wind Farming exclusion zones is probably an area that could be
explored further as there are different risks as opposed to subsea architecture.

I have found that calls for exclusion zones have been rejected by
the government (Ref 2). Apparently each planning application is assessed on a
cases by case basis.         




Ryan Grekowicz's picture

I would agree that the primary risk to human life in the wind energy industry would be working at heights; which is not a unique risk to the wind power industry.  These risks are easily mitigated through proper training and good equipment.  It's pretty difficult to locate the exact statistics while researching on the internet, but I'm sure that a lot more people are killed installing roofs on houses than are killed installing wind turbines.  The benefits of wind energy definitely far outweight the negative aspects, therefore it needs to continue to be developed, especially since once it's put into operation, it's zero emmission. 

The complaints regarding bird deaths, noise, and being ugly can be addressed through better planning.  I do understand some of the aesthetic complaints, because I have driven across the United States, and seen some beautiful areas tarnished by gigantic wind turbines, but coal burning power plants are ugly, and their emissions spread over significantly larger areas.

I just believe that any form of energy production that can eliminate emmissions and not utilize potentially hazardous chemicals, is OK in my book.

Kevin K. Waweru's picture

Statistics published by Renewable UK (formerly British Wind Energy Association) suggest no member of the UK public has been killed or seriously injured by an operational wind turbine in UK (cited 2012-10-03:

Considering that wind energy has been in operation for over 20 years worldwide, this is a commendable operational safety record compared to other energy sources.

This has been further supported by research published by the HSE (UK safety regulator), which suggested the probabilities of a fatality from a failed wind turbine & a fatal lightening strike are similar (cited 2012-10-03:

Therefore the general public can enjoy this renewable energy source in the knowledge that they are relatively safe from operational turbines.


Kevin K. Waweru

MSc Oil & Gas Engineering

Kevin K. Waweru's picture

One aspect of resistance against wind energy is environmental impact. The turbines require only sufficient amounts of wind in order to operate and do not emit greenhouse gases. This qualifies wind energy as a renewable source. However, the controversy lies in the construction and erection of the wind turbines where some greenhouse gas emissions are generated. Proponents of wind energy have responded to say that this renewable resource pays back its CO2 emissions within a few months of operation.

Another controversy relates to the safety hazards associated with the construction, operation and maintenance of wind turbines. Over 40 fatalities attributed to wind energy generation have been recorded to date, with most involving falls from height or being caught in machinery during maintenance (cited 2012-10-03:

The modern designs by Vestas and other manufacturers of wind turbines do address these concerns regarding safe maintenance. Other improvements introduced in the modern design of wind turbines include electronic controllers and monitors, automatic fire extinguishers, and automatic shutdown systems in case of excessively high/strong winds, electrical faults and ice build-up.

All of the above is of course in addition to other environmental impact considerations such as land take, noise, aesthetics and landscape that must be carefully considered during the appraisal/planning stage including key stakeholder involvement.


Kevin K. Waweru

MSc Oil & Gas Engineering

Kii Cajetan Barisi's picture

there are basically two ways wind turbines cound cause injury to a member of the genaral public. these are


  1. turbines shedding a part of its blade or in exceptional circumstances a whole blade due to lightening strike or mechanical failure of turbines.
  2. ice, which has formed on a turbine blade being shed when the turbine starts up. 

there have been few cases worldwide of such occurences. these accidents have usually occured in bad weather conditions when few people are around. in Europe, there are no known cases where injury or fatalities has occured.

wind turbines are like most other engineering products such as cars or aircraft, they are designed to operate to a high standard of safety. however there has been a very small number of injuries and fatalities to operational staff across the world. though none has been reported in the UK.

this accidents have been caused by failures to adhere to manufacture's instructions on usage.

these few instances should be viewed in the context of the number of turbines worldwide (over 50,000).

The vast majority opf which have been operating safely since they were built.

basically wind energy cabn be said to be the safest source of energy in the world. 


Kii Cajetan Barisi 


charlesggeorge's picture

Considering the safety of the wind energy, it requires a number of
engineered safety features for reliable as well as the safe working of the wind
turbines. Mostly the design life time of the wind turbines usually about 20
years or more in which they can operated reliably and safely in risky or
hazardous conditions like heavy storm. Wind turbines designed to operate in
high standards of safety such as cars or aircraft. But, there are some number
of injuries and fatalities to operational staff as well as the general public
across the world. This is mainly due to the turbine shedding a part of blade
which caused by lightning or mechanical failure and another is due to ice which
is formed in turbine blade, being shed when the turbine starts up.

 For the safety of the humans there is some offset distance
recommended to wind turbine from human dwelling. 

Some of the offset distance recommendations are, 






Electric ( GE)                  

H, from property line, H is turbine nacelle heght












Offset distance vary from place to place but considering the
offset distance in installing the wind turbine can save many human life.





Charles George

Msc oil and Gas Engineering, 2012-2013 

Elle Allswell David's picture

Winds are caused by the uneven heating of the atmosphere by the sun, the irregularities of the earth's surface, and the rotation of the earth.
Wind energy or wind power describes the process by which the wind is used to generate mechanical power or electricity. Wind turbines convert the kinetic energy in the wind into mechanical power.
Wind energy is a renewable source of energy as a result no matter the how much is used there will still be the same for future use. Wind plants emit no air pollutants or greenhouse gases as such they don't contribute to global warming. Though it requires a higher initial investment than fossil fuelled systems the operating expenses is lower. Wind energy requires a higher initial investment than fossil fuelled systems the operating expenses is lower.
In terms of environmental impact there is some noise produced by the rotor blades and birds and bats are been killed by flying into the rotors. Winds are unreliable as sometimes the wind strength may be too low to support a turbine.
Studies conducted over the years has shown that wind power has a low Years of Life Lost per GWh and as such is a good source of energy with very low accident rate.
Wind energy is indeed a safe source of energy.

Zdenko Simic etal . Risk from Nuclear power utilization after Fukushima.
J.F Manwell etal. Wind Energy explained.
Mukund R. Patel Wind and Solar Energy Power Systems.

Menelaos Michelakis's picture

(Topic : A comparison between onshore and offshore wind farms, and how does the location of each installation affects safety, as well as the amount of energy produced).

A typical onshore wind farm installation, with an average windspeed of 6 m/s, provides about 2 W/m2. This means that an area of 500m2 (0.5km2) will provide 1 MW per hour. A typical offshore wind farm installation, in the same space, provides about 3 W/m2. This means that an area of 500m2, will provide 1.5MW per hour - 500W more than the onshore wind farm.

There are many reasons, for these differences. Firstly the winds are stronger offshore, so offshore wind turbines spin more and thus produce more electricity as an average. Also offshore wind turbines are bigger in size, which means on the one hand more electricity, on the other hand fewer wind turbines in the same area.

So sould we construct only offshore wind farms ? The answer is no, because there are disadvantages regarding offshore wind turbines too. The greatest disadvantage is corrosion, caused by the combined action of water and salt. Salinity, affects in such a great degree wind turbines that every few months or years, parts of the wind turbine or the entire turbine must be changed. This is also affected by weather conditions. The weather conditions at the North sea, are far worse than weather conditions at the Aegean sea for example. For offshore wind turbines, there is also increased installation cost, compared to the installation of onshore wind turbines.

This is translated as increased expenditures, and also as reduced safety. Because the same offshore wind farm has to be visited more times in the same periods of time, than an onshore wind farm. Comparing onshore and offshore wind turbines by the aspect of safety, indicates that accident and death rates are much higher for offshore installations. Several workers have drowned during their effort to change parts, or install offshore wind turbines. Therefore death's toll is higher, for offshore wind turbines.

Climate also affects safety and expenditures. For instance, offshore turbines installed at the Mediterranean sea, or around the greek islands, will live longer than those installed at the North sea.The harsh environment of the North will cause damage to the turbines. Offshore wind turbines, placed on milder climates will also be repaired in an easier way than those installed at the open sea or ocean.

Statistics indicate, that onshore wind farms cost less - also less metal is used, have a longer life, are safer, need less repair and moreover when placed at mountain peaks or at highlands, more electricity is produced and arable land does not go wasted. The environment is also affected less.

To conclude, onshore wind farms seem much more attractive as an investment especially when placed at favoured places such as high peaks, although installing wind turbines offshore, does not have the constraints of space that onshore installations have.

References :

1. G.Boyle, B.Everett, J.Ramage (2003), Energy systems and sustainability

2. J.C Mackay (2008), Sustainable energy without hot air 

Ernest Appiah's picture

The wind energy industry is not completely safety free. There
are safety issues involved in the transportation and erecting of wind turbines.
There have also been a number of accidents involving the maintenance crews working
on the wind turbines over 50m above the ground.  A report by New York Times has shown how the transportation
of wind turbine parts to its assembling point has caused many damages
especially to roadways.

There have been a number of turbines catching fire and
posing a threat to public safety. Most turbines are too high up for the fire
fighters without the use of helicopters to combat these fires when they do



Andreas Kokkinos's picture

The wind energy in UK is a very
established technology since the country is considered the windiest region of
Europe. Additionally, wind energy overpasses hydropower and has become the
larger renewable energy generation in the UK. Besides UK, wind power is the
world’s fastest growing renewable energy source since wind is abundant and
free. In the UK alone, there are 1,233 wind turbines installed which 268 of
them are installed in offshore plants and another 665 turbines are to be
constructed. [1]

Wind energy though, has very significant issues
regarding the safety of the workers involved and even irrelevant people nearby.
According to the Summary of Wind Turbine Accident data to 30 June 2012; wind
energy related accidents since 1970’s are total 1258 and 94 of them were fatal.
Totally 123 people were killed during this period where 74 of them were workers
related with the industry and the remaining 49 were public fatalities. [2]

of these accidents occur during [2]:

  • Construction
    of a wind farm plant
  • Maintenance
    of wind turbines
  • Extreme weather conditions
  • Structural failure
  • Fire
  • Transport of wind turbine components

The British Wind Energy
Association (BWEA) developed the Wind Turbine Safety Rules (WTSR) for
establishing the health and safety of the people involved in this industry both
for onshore and offshore projects. The main purpose of the WTSR is to ensure
satisfying practice of safeguarding employees from any possible dangers; to
assist in the development and function of safe systems and to demonstrate the significant
legal issues regarding the health and safety regulations.[1]


[2] Summary of Wind Turbine
Accident Data to 30 June 2012

(Can be found at

Andreas Kokkinos

MSc Oil and Gas Engineering

WilliamBradford's picture

building of tall structures comes with inherent risk, this is
unavoidable and, in the case of wind turbines, these risks can be
increased by the fact that there are huge moving parts involved, and
that the construction is generally in an isolated area. However,
health and safety legislation should restrict the risk involved by
ensuring that the construction sites are properly ‘kitted out’,
as it were, to handle all possible emergency scenarios, for example,
an increased amount of the medical kits required to temporarily treat
falls and crushed appendages on route to proper treatment at a
hospital, and suitable transportation available to take any invalids


William Bradford

MSc. Renewable Energy 

Kyeyune Joseph's picture

Wind energy simply refers to a mechanism through which wind
is used to generate mechanical power or electricity. Wind turbines convert Kinetic
energy harnessed from wind to mechanical power that can then be used for
grinding, pumping or being converted to electric power by generation systems.

Safety issues in wind energy arise during construction, transportation,
installation, testing, operation and maintenance of wind energy generation plants.
Various risks do exist during such stages that compromise safety of wind power
generating systems. According to
Tiusanen and Liyanage 2011, such risks include
those related to assembly and lifting of large and heavy components during
installation, wind turbine access either by ship or helicopter, working high up
in the Nacelle during installation and maintenance and physiological as well as
psychological effects when working in difficult weather especially offshore. Such
risks when in combination with hazards like fire outbreak can lead to fatalities
and serious injuries.

Fire outbreaks can occur in the Nacelle during operation and
maintenance. This can be caused by leaking hot oil, overheating gearbox,
electric arc and other hazards. These can ignite volatile Nacelle wall materials
like polyurethane since they have low auto ignition temperatures. This has
capacity to cause fatalities and serious injuries.

Blade failure is a common issue and is the leading cause of
incidents on wind turbines. Parts of the blade can be thrown off causing harm
to people and damage to property.

Structural failure especially during extreme weather
conditions like tropical storms such as hurricanes also creates safety issues. This
can as well lead to fatalities and serious injuries.

Environmental damage is also an issue in wind energy. This can
be in form of endangered species such as birds being killed by blades,
collision risks from marine animals (for offshore turbines), noise pollution
especially onshore, and habitat loss for sea animals among other issues.

According to CWIF report 2012, blade failure is the leading
cause of incidents followed by fire, structural failure and others. The same
report highlights an increase in fatalities for the period 2004-2012.

Due to the above, thorough reliability assessment for systems
and components and risk assessment for identified risks are crucial in wind
energy if incidents that compromise safety  in wind energy are to be curtailed in number and severity.


J.R. 2009, "Wind Turbine Safety: 200 Feet High In a Fire", American
Society of Safety Engineers, 28 June-1 July 2009. ASSE conference paper 09-718.
Available at one petro.

R., Jännes, J. & Liyanage, J.P. 2011, "Framework to Assess System
Risks Associated With Offshore Wind Farms In Northern Context", The
International Society of Offshore and Polar Engineers, 19-24 June 2011. ISOPE
conference paper 1-11-042. Available at one petro.

Caithness windfarm information forum report 2012. Available at

Lee Soo Chyi's picture


The wind energy
industry has a duty to act responsibly, both towards the health and safety of
individuals and minimising the impact of wind turbines on the environment. Wind
turbines are designed to operate to high standards of safety. However, there have
been some injuries and fatalities to operational staff. They have been caused
by a failure to observe manufacturers and operators instructions.

Personnel Safety Issues:

Working on a wind
farm is not without its hazards. The workers safety issues faced daily on wind
projects are:

at considerable heights

confined spaces

climbing and heavy lifting

These accidents can
be prevented if worker take all reasonable precautions to protect himself. For
example, wear safety hardness when working at considerable heights; implement “buddy
system” when entering confined space; setup a safety barricade to prevent
people from entering lifting area.

All company/
contractors have their own HSE program as required by Authority Bodies. Accidents
are happened although safety induction courses, safety campaigns and training
have been introduced to workers. Lack of self-awareness and failure to follow
current guidelines contributing to these incidents.

Other Environmental and Health Safety

Wind farm developers
are required to consider all environmental aspects and produce an Environmental
Impact Assessment, which covers all the issues as part of the application for
planning permission [1].

People are asking:

Can the
look of wind farms be improved?

noisy are wind turbines?

wind turbines interfere with television reception?

How to
improves layout of wind farm so that the skyline, landscape can be retained

But we should ask the following question
instead of queries listed above.

Would people rather have a coal or natural
power gas plant in their neighbourhood, which affects their health, quality of
life and property values, or an innocuous wind turbine that they could barely
see during those times when they were actually looking offshore?







Soo Chyi, Lee

Giorgos Hadjieleftheriou's picture


safety in wind energy


Wind energy is produced most commonly by the known wind
turbines. The turbines themselves are the danger because of the large diameter
of the turbine and the very long tower supporting it.

A lot of accidents occur during transporting, erecting,
installing and maintaining the turbines.

In some cases, when there is a lot of wind, turbines
might start spinning without control. That can create several problems like
malfunctions at the rotor. Rotor malfunctions could create fire and taking it
out is difficult because of the height of the tower. In some other cases the
turbine may be destroyed and debris to be thrown to a long distance.

Wind turbines creating high voltage when in use and
workers have to be very careful and prefer working at sunny days.

When the weather is cold and snowy, ice might fall from
tower and turbine.


Connie Shellcock's picture

Wind energy is a novel source of energy and
because of this it comes with new, unseen hazards. According to Albrechtsen’s
review of Occupational safety management
in the offshore wind industry – status and challenges
(2012), many
accidents and fatalities have occurred whilst working in this industry.
Albrechtsen’s review suggests that there is a lack of available data on wind
farm incidents to carry out risk analyses such as QRAs. This poses one of the
main problems for safety management in the wind industry as like in the oil and
gas industry, many decisions concerning safety are made based on historical
data gathered over time. However the wind industry lacks the time and expertise
at the moment.  Albrechtsen’s review also
points out that there is a lack of offshore wind farm safety legislation to
follow. These factors make it difficult for offshore wind farm companies to implement
effective safety management. There are a number of ways this can be improved including
adequate training of workers, increasing the amount of data being recorded on
incidents and accidents, and defining roles and responsibilities of workers. This
however takes time and it also doesn’t factor in hazards which we yet do not
know about.

Aaron McKenna's picture

Aaron McKenna's picture

I would like to offer my personal opinion on safety in wind
energy. Giorgos pointed out that many of the injuries and fatalities that have
come from this area are in the construction, maintenance and transportation
stages. This is due to the height at which they are at, the heavy materials
involved among other things. As Connie makes note this is a new area of
technology leaving us with very little historical data to measure risks and
safety issues with. I feel then that this is a technology that in its infancy
must draw on current knowledge, guidelines and legislation from industries that
have similar safety concerns. These would obviously be very much based on the
construction industry but they have numerous guidelines based on excessive
heights, heavy equipment and materials, and many of the other safety issues
that wind turbine construction teams also face. I am sure that this has been
done but I feel this is a point that is fitting for almost all areas and therefore
important to be acknowledged. This is true for reliability calculations for
elements of a new technology where historical data is not available. Sometimes we
just have to work with what we know and hope that is a good enough indicator of
what is to come. As John Cavanagh pointed out sometimes innovation is employing
an age old system in a new field.

Mark Nicol's picture

From an installation perspective, the wind energy industry needs
to look at and learn from the Subsea Installation Contractor’s. These companies
have been around since the beginning and have learned the lessons from the
thousands of Subsea Installation’s that they have completed.

The wind energy can learn not only the HSE regulations that are
adopted for installing structures for example, but there is also the structural
installation analysis, the geotechnical analysis for stability of the structures.

From a design perspective I’m sure if the wind energy industry
looked at and even used the design consultants that are around in the Subsea
Industry some of the design codes and regulations would be applicable to some
degree and could be possibly modified to suit the wind energy industry.  

For example some of the codes that are currently used for
structural design (API-2A-WSD), material selection (ASTM), and cathodic
protection (DNV-RP-401) could be used or modified for use in the wind energy

faizakhatri's picture

Wind is a clean source of renewable energy do not need any type of fuel,that produces no air or water pollution and a safest  way to generate electricity having no emission of Greenhouse gases, Particles and other pollutants also having no issues of  wastes discharges ,Solid wastes in to land or water or atmosphere however the construction and operations of wind turbines can result in potential negative local environnemental impacts on birds, wildlife,landscapes, sustainable land use (including protected areas)and can cause damage to workers, in some cases if turbine has shedding a part of a blade or in exceptional circumstances or mechanical failure and if ice forming on turbine blade because of bad weather which  associated  incidents  involving human beings where injury has  resulted. But accidents involving these turbines are very rare   However it is necessary to construct and follow the rules of health ,  safety and environmental  aspects during and after construction of wind turbines and maintenance and servicing of turbines in order to improve HSE standards Khatri

Keqin Chen's picture

Discussion Topic 6: Discuss safety in wind energy.


As a revolutionary renewable energy source, wind energy uses the
natural resource of the earth and consume no fuel and water at all. It has
contributed more than 2.5% to total worldwide electricity usage so far per year
and will increase at a rate of 25% per year.


I’d like to mention the idea that the wind farms introduce limited
harm the ecology. Main evidences are shown below:


About the site chosen and land use

According to the investigation of New South Wales Government  Department of Environment [1], the site chosen of wind
farms usually are on land that have been impacted by land clearing. Compared to
the coal mines and coal-fire station, the change of land and related ecology
system is limited and easier to recovery to the original status.

About the impact on Animals and Birds

to the investigation called "Contextualizing avian mortality: A
preliminary appraisal of bird and bat fatalities from wind, fossil-fuel, and
nuclear electricity" done by Sovacool, B. K, [2],
the wind energy causes less (1/10) fatalities when it compared to the fossil
fuel counterparts, and the main reason is the wind power introduces less
habitat alteration from pollution. 



New South Wales
Government (1 November 2010). The wind
energy fact sheet
 Department of Environment, Climate Change
and Water, p. 13

Sovacool, B. K. (2009).
"Contextualizing avian mortality: A preliminary appraisal of bird and bat
fatalities from wind, fossil-fuel, and nuclear electricity". Energy
Policy 37 (6): 2241–2248. doi:10.1016/j.enpol.2009.02.011

3. Environmental impact of wind power,


Kelvin Osaro's picture

The major accidents or environmental impacts caused by wind turbines are illustrated below:

1.    Blade Failure:

This failure is considered as the major incidents occurrence in the wind energy scheme according to the Caithness Windfarm Information Forum 2012 [2]. This blade failure occurs when parts of the blade or the whole blades are being thrown off from the turbine due to lightning strikes, heavy wind or mechanical failure [1]. More so, it was observed that a total of 249 separate incidences were found from the 70s to 30 September 2012 [2]. For example in Huddersfield a wind turbine ripped apart by gale force winds whereby huge turbine blades flew off three windmills but no fatality was accounted. However this is why Caithness Windfarm Information Forum 2012 (CWIF) requires that wind turbines should have a minimum distance of 2km spacing between each turbines and work places or residential housing. This helps to encourage public safety and other issues like shadow flicker and noise from the turbine blades [2].

2.    Fire Failure:

It can be observed that fire failure in wind turbines are considered the second most common accident which occurs in the wind energy scheme as stated by CWIF. This failure depends on a number of sources like some types of turbine are prone to fire damage than others. More so, it was observed that a total of 195 fire incidents were found from the 70s to 30 September 2012 [2]. However, the problem with fire failure is that, due to the height of the wind turbine it is impossible to stop the fire when such failure occurs. In a dry weather condition, fire failure can tend to cause wider area fire risk, when this turbine blades burn down on a dry forest area or close to residential housing or work places [2].

3.    Structural Failure:

This is considered the third most common accident in the wind energy scheme accounting for 130 incidents as from 70s to 30 September 2012 according to CWIF [2].  Any wind turbine is designed to withstand any possible structural failure at the start phase of any project. This failure can be through the tower collapsing and natural disaster such as storm damage or other failures like lack of maintenance, component failure and poor quality control [2]. However, structural failures are essentially more damaging and expensive than blade failure when considering the risk to public safety as structural failure occurs only short distance than blade failure [2].



Sineenat Kruennumjai's picture

Discussion topic 6 Safety in wind energy

Although wind energy is generated from the clean natural
resource and it seem to be safety and environmental friendly, they also some
hidden impacts. The most importance issue is noise pollution which causes from
the rotation of wind turbine. Some people compare the noisiness of this sound
with the sound output from a small airplane engine. Moreover, wind turbines
might impact the animals that are living around there. In some area, birds have
been killed by the blade of wind turbines. The blade speed in the air might not
seem harmful for people, yet it is more dangerous for a small life likes


Azeezat's picture

The Wind Energy Industry has been faced with safety
challenges for those working at heights. Whether in turbine construction,
maintenance or rescue/evacuation, providing safety at height solutions that
enhance workers safety, comfort, trust and increase productivity will need an
effective risk management which begins with implementing the necessary
processes for risk evaluation concerning employees, the public, and the
business. The organisation is the key person to identify the risks associated
with specific hazards for occupational health, occupational safety, process
safety, environment, security and quality. The site management should identify the
business risks which threaten the survival or reputation of the organisation
associated with major internal or external events.

Risk Control/Mitigation.

An adequate risk controls should be in place including
engineering design, rules, procedures, training and protective equipment to
meet defined performance standards. Preventing major loss events requires that
the necessary people, process and equipment barriers are in place. The risk
management improvement loop concludes with risk monitoring activities including
inspection, observation, audit and review processes to ensure the controls are
adequate to address the identified risks.

Environmental issues specific to the operation of wind
energy projects and facilities include the following: Visual Impacts, Noise,
Species mortality or injury and disturbance, Light and illumination issues,
Habitat alteration, Water quality

  Prevention and
control measures

-Conduct a site selection process which
considers the potential for interference of structural components of the
project with commercial or recreational fisheries and marine species habitats.

-Plan the installation of structural
components taking into account sensitive life-cycle periods

sitting to avoid high-density bird use areas, including migratory pathways;

-Maintain turbine tower heights below
typical elevations of migratory bird pathways

-Consult the community on the location of
the wind farm to incorporate community values into design;

-Consider the landscape character during
turbine sitting, Plan the installation of structural -components taking into
account sensitive life-cycle periods

-Prior to undertaking work, test structure
for integrity,Implementation of a fall protection program that includes
training in climbing techniques and use of fall protection measures;
inspection, maintenance, and replacement of fall protection equipment; and
rescue of fall-arrested workers.

Community health and safety hazards specific to wind energy
facilities primarily include the following: Aircraft and marine navigation
safety, Blade and ice throw, Electromagnetic interference and radiation, Public

  The design lifetime
of a wind turbine is approximately 20 years, but in practice turbines may last
longer at sites with low turbulence. Routine maintenance needs to be conducted
throughout the lifetime of the wind turbine, generally amounting to
approximately 40hours a year. Maintenance activities may include turbine and
rotor maintenance, lubrication of parts, full generator overhaul and
maintenance of electrical components as necessary

Agba A. Imbuo's picture


I am open to any technology that improves the lives of the community, but it has to be safe, functionally reliable and cost effective. There are no bargains in ‘wind power’ either in the safety, functionality or in a cost factor. Wind power technology has been in existence long ago, but was limited for use in pumping water and for milling grains. Today’s application of wind energy has included its use as a source of energy generation. There are lots of shortcomings associated with windpower technologies from construction of a wind farm plant, maintenance of wind turbines, extreme weather conditions, structural failure, Fire and Transport of wind turbine components making it not functionally reliable and cost effective.
 A report was conducted by Caithness Windfarm Information Forum (CWIF)  in terms of numbers of accidents and their frequency. The trend is as expected – as more turbines are built, more accidents occur. With an average of 16 accidents per year from 1995-99 inclusive;  48 accidents per year from 2000-04 inclusive, and 105 accidents per year from 2005-09 inclusive. Indeed over the past three years (2007-09), the average has been 124 accidents per year. These are very huge statistical figures which clearly gives an insight into how unsafe the technology is.
The question we want to answer is that are we prepared to take responsibility for the harm and potential injury caused by wind power technology? I guess the answer is a big NO. Therefore it is very glaring that wind power is unsafe.



Trevor Strawbridge's picture

I read the above Blog with some interest. I too looked at the Caithness Windfarm site and was taken back by the statitics regarding Accidents and Fatalities in the last 5 years or so; and there appears to be a rising trend. This could be due to 2 factors; the first being that there is a large increase in the demand of wind energy modules produced and secondly the construction may not have the same Health & Safety culture compared to subsea for example. Never the less, Caithness report a total of 46 deaths in the last 5 years with more than 700 reportable accidents. Furthermore, its somewhat concerning that they describe this as being " only the tip of the iceberge" belive that this could be a lot higher. If these figures are correct then they appear to be well concealed from the public eye. The General perception from the public I meet is that Wind energy is "safe and clean". I think that this side of the industry needs to apply some focus on producing safe modules by reviewing the failure modes experienced and implementing mitigating measures. The current statistical trend needs to be reversed if the public is to remain having faith in this renewable energy scheme.

Trevor Strawbridge

Marinos Ioannou's picture

Marinos Ioannou

Some Highland schools have installed in their
playgrounds wind turbines to reduce school’s electricity needs. A big concern
about this was created in the northern areas, about their children safety.  Despite the parent’s complaints, the Highland
Council confirmed on 26 Oct 2012 that after several risk-assessment procedures,
the 16 installed turbines are safe to operate. While trying to save money, energy
and to reduce gas emissions the Highland council, as some councillor support, they
didn’t take the appropriate measurements for the children safety in the
playgrounds. What they support is that the restricted area has to be closed
with a kind of safety fences in order to keep away the danger from anyone that
is close. Moreover, there is a report that says about a failure of a turbine
back in 2009 in Raasay School. When the turbine stopped working properly, the children
were sent back home to keep them safe as a blade from the turbine was found stacked
into the ground later on.


Wind farms have a several hazards but I would
like to highlight one specific item in offshore field, clash with ship during
its operation. More wind farm installed in offshore, more possibilities for
clash accident would be.

The location of wind farms is reviewed by
developer / government regards with navigational traffic, accessibility, place
to have enough wind. Close place from onshore would be required for less logistics
and maintenance cost, so developer prefer to choose an inshore place. In the
other hands, inshore place has more possibility in high demand of navigational
traffic. As a result, developer should proceed with ‘navigation risk assessment within developer’s environmental statement
at the planning stage. BWEA, Guideline for Health and Safety in the Marin
Energy Industry, 2008

After design stage, developer needs to
acquire for temporary safety (exclusive) zone during their construction / installation
activities with 500 m range. Based on this, authority will give announce to
public. Additionally, developer may use guard vessel for securing their site. On
the contrary, permanent safety zone during production is considered case by
case: “Permanent Safety Zones are not
expected to be established…risk-assessed arguments would be required for their
”. MCA, MGN No. 372,2008 [2] We can assume that
safety zone in production stage could be posed based on necessity. Even though
wind farm is not secured by safety zone, the location should be registered in
sea map: “All wind farms off the UK coast will be charted by the UKHO either by
a group of black wind turbine chart symbols.” MCA, MGN No. 372,2008 [2]

Furthermore, wind turbine has to equip
radar and alarming system for approaching ship.

These are minimum measurements for
preventing clash accidents in offshore in legislation. If sea weather is harsh,
this accident could happen though. In this perspective, gathered wind farm area
could be more efficient for controlling navigational traffic.  



[1]BWEA, Guideline for Health and Safety in
the Marin Energy Industry, 2008

[2]MCA, MGN 372 Offshore Renewable Energy
Installations: Guidance to Mariners Operating in the Vicinity of UK OREIs, 2008





Siwei Kang's picture

Nowadays, with the depletion of conventional energy, renewable energy is attracting increasingly more attention. Many countries like UK, China have proposed their own strategies on wind energy. However, should we really accelerate this so-called environmental friendly energy?

Actually, a lot of my classmates gave their answers for this question. It's negative. The problems caused by wind farm, like noise, frightening livestocks and killing birds, had been mentioned and demonstrated above by my classmates. In reality, the defect of wind energy is far more than that. A report from MIT(Massachusetts Institute of Technology) said that wind farm could influence the regional temerature and weather. The reason is that at night, a warmer layer usually covers a cooler layer. But the spinning of wind turbine can pull the wamer air to the ground while the cooler layer rises, which increases the surface temperature. NASA confirms this study result. It is found that the number of wind turbiens in Texas had incresed from 111 in 2003 to 2358 in 2011. in the meanwhile, the surface temperature also jumped in the wind turbine installed area proportionally. The increment is 1 degree but the average level is 0.15 degree over the same period. As a consequence, wind farm could hugely jeopardize our living enviroment.

Therefore, it is time to reconsider the strategy of wind energy for these countries!

Bassey Kufre Peter's picture

Bassey, Kufre Peter
M.Sc-Subsea Engineering-2012/2013
University of Aberdeen.

Bassey Kufre Peter's picture

A wind Energy is generated from a wind turbine (a machine made up of two or three propeller-like blades called the rotor). The rotor is attached to the top of a tall tower. As the wind blows, it spins the rotor. As the rotor spins, the energy of the movement of the propellers gives power to a generator.

Having given a brief description of the wind turbine, let us take a critical look at human safety,economy and environmental impact of wind energy. According to Accident Statistics from: CAITHNESS WINDFARM INFORMATION FORUM (CWIF) FROM 70s TO 30 SEPTEMBER 2012, UK being a case study:

1. Total number of accidents: 1292

2. Number of Fatal accidents: 96

3. Human Injury: 112 accidents regarding human injury are documented.

4. Blade failure: 249

5. Fire: a total of 195 fire incidents.

6. Structural failure: 130.

7. Ice throw: 34.

8. Transport: 108 reported accidents.

9. Environmental damage (including bird deaths): 116 cases of environmental damage have been reported.

10. Other (miscellaneous): 252 miscellaneous accidents are also      present in the data.

From the data, it shows that:

a. Miscellaneous failure (252) has the highest rate which means that components failure has been reported here if there has been no consequential structural damage. Also included here is lack of maintenance, electrical failure ( not led to fire or electrocution), lightning strike etc.

b. The blade failure shows that the biggest number of incidents found was due to blade failure(249). The blade failure can arise from a number of possible sources, and results in either whole blades or pieces of blade being thrown from the turbine.

c. The data also shows that the third most common accident  was due to “structural failure”(130). This tells us that the components should be design to withstand storm damage to turbines and possible collapse. That they should also be a good quality control and maintenance. 

d. The transport fatalities (108) includes fatalities and human injuries involve turbine sections falling from transporters. This is the single biggest cause of public fatalities.

e. Fire is the most second common accident found to cause incidents found. It can arise from a number of sources. This will scatter the debris from the turbine all over with will set the wind industry workers ablaze. 

From the points discussed above, if they are stricky consider  and design for,  a wind turbine will be a relative good source of energy as they:

1. Are pollution free

2. Are Renewable

3. Are not adding Carbon (IV) oxide to the atmosphere hence, it does not add greenhouse gases to the air 

4. It does not cause global warming.

The negative part of a wind energy is that the turbine makes noise, kill birds and the shape spoil the look of the natural environment.

But this can be design for.



[Accessed 03 November 2012]


[Accessed 03 November 2012]

Bassey, Kufre Peter
M.Sc-Subsea Engineering-2012/2013
University of Aberdeen.

Foivos Theofilopoulos's picture

Concentrating for a moment on the safety issue and leaving aside the possible environmental issues, I think that one reason why wind farms and the wind energy field in general have so bad statistics in terms of accidents and safety is the investment itself. I might sound callous, but improvements in every industry come from corporate investments. The amount of money involved in the oil & gas industry enables significant research and spending of money in the field of safety, because the investment itself is worth it. Unfortunately, the return rates of wind energy are not the same with oil & gas, so I do not think that we will see much initiative for improvement, at least from the operators’ side of the equation.

From the regulator’s side of the equation, I will also point out what Connie wrote before. The lack of historical data and in-depth research in safety (such as those present in O&G) acts as a brittle platform for the field of wind energy. While it will take time to collect that data, global academia can make a difference, by putting effort to improve and accelerate research in wind energy safety.

Elvis.E.Osung's picture

Wind energy as a renewable form of energy is safe to human health.  The Wisconsin Division of Public Health has reviewed more than 150 scientific and medical reports related to wind turbines and public health. "We conclude that current scientific evidence is not sufficient to support a conclusion that contemporary wind turbines cause adverse health outcomes in those living at distances consistent with current draft rules being considered by the Public Service Commission,"Read more:, Wind farms have has its inherent challenges as accidents results during construction, the noise generated by the turbines, the effect on birds amongst others. The aforementioned factors combine together towards the increasing voice of nay Sayers opposing wind farms in their neighbourhood.

chukwuemeka uzukwu's picture

wind power plants have relatively little impact on the environment compared to
fossil fuel power plants, concerns have been raised over the noise produced by the rotor blades. Like all mechanical
systems, wind turbines
produce some noise when they operate. Most of the turbine noise is masked by
the sound of the wind itself, and the turbines run only when the wind blows. Unlike
most other generation technologies, wind turbines do not use combustion to
generate electricity, and hence don't produce air emissions. The only
potentially toxic or hazardous materials are relatively small amounts of lubricating
oils and hydraulic and insulating fluids. Therefore, contamination of surface
or ground water or soils is highly unlikely. The primary
health and
safety considerations are related to blade movement and the
presence of industrial equipment in areas potentially accessible to the public.
An additional concern associated with wind turbines is potential interference
with radar and telecommunication facilities. And like all electrical generating
facilities, wind generators produce
electric and magnetic fields.



Abiaziem Davidson's picture

Safety or Risk management when it comes to Wind energy operations and maintenance, nearly everything is potentially hazardous. From working with machine, tools, crane, electricity performing heavy mechanical repairs or working at heights, it is all potentially dangerous. People in the industry will perform tasks that regularly include all aspects of the above in the same hour of the day, all day long, and think nothing of it. Safety is an ever prevent component of the job. Working on wind turbines is still inherently risky, but as the number of people entering the industry increases, safety procedures and practices are improving.

All aspect of the wind industry has worked to improve awareness of safety on the job. Most wind companies now perform Job Safety Analysis (JSA) before performing any operation. Lift procedures are reviewed and assessed before every project. Safety issues are followed closely and all safety requirements for every project are met and individual planning have also improved in personal protective equipment.

One of the problems facing Wind energy is its unreliability during the freezing temperature; the threat of formation on the turbine blades can cause operational problem and ice throw. Another disturbing issue in wind energy is the noise generation and minimizing this requires careful design and siting and operation.

While it can’t be denied that wind turbines need to be a part of our domestic energy solution, it is clear that the industry still has several issues to overcome 


Kingsley ENEM's picture

Wind energy is the conversion of wind power into a valuable form of energy, such as; wind turbines to create electricity, windmills for mechanical power, windpumps for water pumping etc. As alternative fossil fuels, Wind power is abundant, renewable, widely distributed, clean and generates no greenhouse gas emissions during operation and uses little land.
The reliability, safe and advantageous operation of wind turbines necessitates the use of a number of Engineering Safety Features (ESFs), much like any other engineered device. Identification of the probable failure modes under severe wind conditions, risks and hazards will lead to future even more reliable and safer wind turbine designs.
Wind turbine safety is essential to remember primarily as turbines become taller and generate more electricity. The major risk is falling from heights. But other risks associated directly to wind turbines are electrocution from touching high-voltage wires on a wind turbine. Also during cold weather, ice can form on the turbines blades. When the turbine starts to turn again, this ice can be thrown off, which is a danger to humans and animals. It can be hazardous to wildlife, and birds are known to crash with them. The frequency of these incidents increases when wind farms are built near nestling areas.
However, wind energy is a clean and renewable source of energy; a number of hazards are related with the turbines and can be prevented through sound health and safety management practices. Industry energetically promotes safety and encourages their members to take all required precautions to protect workers and the public.


Kingsley ENEM

t01sik12's picture

The Wind Energy Industry has a role towards health and safety of individuals and in reduction of the impact of wind turbines on environment. Wind turbines are like most other engineering Products designed to operate to high standards of safety. Few of the Incident recorded in Africa is caused by a failure to observe manufacturers and operators instructions. Wind Turbines are tall structures of poles built from in an open Area, they are very conspicuos.

Wind Energy is not guaranteed safe: shedding of turbine blade can cause a major accident to a public member, Wind turbines are noisy but with modern technology it can be captured efficiently, When wind turbines are being manufactured some pollution is produced, therefore wind power does produce some pollution.

However,  Many people find wind farms an interesting feature of the land scape, most remote areas are not connected to the electricity power grid can use wind turbines to produce their own supply.

Wind turbines serves in most areas still have some issues to resolve.





Igwe Veronica Ifenyinwa's picture


Wind Energy is another type of renewable
energy that can be used to power the home. Wind energy offers both
environmental and economic benefits as it produces zero emissions, it’s largely
renewable and the fuel itself is free, easily obtainable and will never
fluctuate in cost but it also has its challenges.

impact of wind energy as many people consider wind farms as unpleasant to
humanity’s sight and as man-made structures, (case in point: Donald Trump’s
objection to the siting of a wind farm close to his International Golf course
at the Aberdeen bay solely due to loss of aesthetics, imminent distraction and
embarrassment of tourists and visitors alike) the turbines may have a negative
visual impact or be viewed as a form of visual pollution.

farms require large areas of land or have to be placed in environmentally
sensitive areas such as deserts, on top of hills and mountain ridges or
offshore in the sea were the winds force is stronger and constant.

The wind
turbine is like a giant propeller and as such needs the kinetic power of the
wind to rotate it meaning that at low wind speeds or prolonged levels of no
wind (calm weather), the turbine does not generate any useful electricity.

farms injure, kill and disturb the flight patterns of migratory birds and
predatory birds. Some birds and even bats have been killed by flying into the
wind turbine blades when rotating, but these numbers are very small, but can
lead to loss of biodiversity.

turbines cause noise pollution because they produce a low frequency
"whooshing sound" as the blades rotate which itself is largely masked
by the noise of the driving wind.

initial investment in the turbines, transportation and ground works makes wind
energy costs higher than conventional fossil-fuel generators.The best locations
for converting wind into electricity are far away from populated urban areas,
which often times than not posit that the electricity must be stored and/or
transported over long cable distances.


wind energy is altogether safer than other energy sources in spite of the
highlighted pitfalls.


BBC news:
18th October, 2012

Kwadwo Boateng Aniagyei's picture

Wind energy, unlike other fossil fuels doesn’t emit
greenhouse gases into the environment. It is a clean renewable source of energy.
However, they have other ways of polluting our environment, though it might not
be as severe as that of fossil fuels. There are two ways where wind turbines
could be unsafe to operate and be of danger to the public. These are2

Turbines shedding a part of a blade or a whole
blade due to mechanical hazards or bad weather conditions like a lightning strike.

Shedding of ice which has formed on a turbine

The major environmental hazard of wind energy is noise
pollution. Like all aerodynamic and mechanical systems, wind turbines produce
some noise when they operate. This is mostly experienced at periods during high
and speedy winds. This noise consideration however limits the number of turbines
that can be installed on a wind farm.

Also at sites where wind turbines are badly installed and
positioned, they can be harmful to wildlife. They have the potential of causing
fatalities to birds and livestock if they are not well operated. Moreover, wind
turbines can be visually intrusive. This however is based on personal aesthetic
perceptions as two people may have different views for a particular object. Stability
of the engineering structure can also pose severe dangers when they fail against
the strong winds. The "Guardian" newspaper
in the UK reported in 2008 on a number of turbines that broke and threw blades
onto houses, farms and even back into the turbine tower itself. The article
noted that a turbulent atmosphere may cause cracks to form in a turbine'
structure1. Wind turbines can also impact climatic conditions. Wind
farms may affect weather in their immediate vicinity. The turbulence created by
the spinning of wind turbine rotors increases vertical mixing of heat and water
vapor that affects the meteorological conditions downwind. Overall, wind farms
lead to a warming at night and cooling during the day time.

Despite these potential hazards, wind energy is a very promising
source of energy and it should be encouraged as other sources of conventional
energy sources begin to run out.






Oluwatadegbe Adesunloye Oyolola's picture

Failure modes associated with wind energy include; Fire Failure, Blade Failure, Tower Collapse failure and Electricity Supply Failure. This section centers on the electricity supply failure of wind energy.

In order to cover the national electricity requirements, the total amount of kilowatts fed into the grid must be exactly the same as the amount delivered. The least imbalance between demand and supply will undoubtedly cause the network to collapse, leading towards a major black-out. The sharp fluctuations in the mains supply by the aggregate wind farms, whether they are located on land or offshore, will have to be compensated for by up or downward exact adjustment of the total power of all electricity plants. And for technical reasons this will not be feasible when the total installed power from all connected wind farms becomes too large. This is due to the fact that steam turbines of the kind used in power plants can only be adjusted to a higher or lower power at a limited rate of kilowatts or megawatts per minute. These limits to the adjustment rate range from 11 to approx. 14 MW per minute depending on whether the adjustment is upward or downward. If this maximum adjustment rate is surpassed, the turbine will undoubtedly be severely damaged.

Therefore, it is not at all true that the very considerable rapid fluctuations of aggregate change in power rate from wind energy, between zero or practically zero, with insufficient wind, and the contrary as the wind speed suddenly rises, can always be compensated for by correcting the power rate of conventional power plants. The total power of large groups of Wind turbines can rise or drop very fast by hundreds of megawatts. At the moment when it becomes impossible for plants to compensate for such harsh swings of the wind power, the immediate consequence will be a failure in the grid, resulting in a black-out.


Adesunloye-Oyolola O.

MSc Oil and Gas Engineering

William J. Wilson's picture

Something we have learned early on in our studies of “Fundamental Safety Engineering and Risk Management Concepts” is the usefulness of risk assessments to help identify and evaluate safety issues by applying consequence–likelihood graphs.  The value of a consequence–likelihood graph surely is the capacity to manage any risk by applying ALARP concepts.  I would like to apply this to the noise created by wind farms.  Now, I don’t mean the noise created by politicians, green peace activists or even Donald Trump on the subject of wind farms but rather the actual noise both mechanical and aero-dynamical.

Mechanical noise is caused by generators and machinery within the nacelle and the aero-dynamical noise by the movement of the turbine blades through the air.  The frequency of the noise depends on the turbine speed but it tends to be low (10-1000Hz) [otherwise known as infrasound], and it has been proven that infrasound noise can damage human hearing.  This noise has been measured to be between 25-90dB depending on sample range.

So if a turbine during normal wind conditions always generates noise that has the serious consequence of damaging human hearing then the likelihood should be categorised as high.

To manage this risk:
1. Wind turbines should be designed to national or international acoustic standards
2. Wind turbines should be not be built within noise sensitive areas (ie near schools, or private property)
3. Have any maintenance staff aware of the noise hazards and issued PPE if required.

It is understood that the noise produced by offshore wind farms in the source of vibration through the water is unlikely to severely displace marine life but I believe that additional care should be taken to avoid environmental damaged caused by installation and decommissioning, which could displace marine life directly.


William Wilson
MSc Subsea Engineering (DL)

Yaw Akyampon Boakye-Ansah's picture


"We obey the law
to stay in business, but we obey the laws of physics to stay alive."
Anonymous windsmith.

According to ‘Sustainable
Energy: Without the Hot Air’, wind mills and wind turbines although they do
pose a hazard to migratory birds, their impact is not as great as air pollution
from vehicular traffic. Thus, the fear of bird extinction through the use of
wind turbines is exaggerated.

Like every manufacturing
industry, the manufacture of wind turbines is hazardous also. The chemicals,
metals, and machines used in the manufacture of their parts present their own
danger. According to data from,
76 deaths occurred in one calendar year with 41 from construction in wind
energy industries.

That is not to say this is the most dangerous industry.
Accordingly, this is not the worst safety record available. In this regard, it
is fair to say that it is relatively safer in the wind energy generation
industry without much about deaths and severe injuries. But every life lost is
worth a lot.

There is a risk of working at height with the wind
energy industry. Although some of the accidents recorded included lack of
safety apparatus, it still happened and the hazard is still there even if fall
arresters are used.[3]

[1] Sustainable Energy:
Without the Hot Air, MacKay David JC




Fungisai N Nota's picture

 When it comes to safety of the wind turbines and wind energy
it all then come down to what the comparison we are looking at. In the United
Kingdom as one of the above has duly noted that no loss of human life has been
attributed to wind turbines.  There have
been issues in the country side where it is said to have caused harm to wild
animals mainly birds as they try to migrate and the turbines are in their
flight path. When we look at the wind it is pollution free and with the global
economy trying to tackle and reduce the carbon footprint I believe that the
wind energy will go a long way to archive the goal. If we look at the risk that
is taking the ALAP into consideration the risk has to be as low as
possible.  Most people complain of the
sight and the noise and like any other technology technical problems do happen
at time. With even improved blades that try reduce the harming of the birds and
insects in flight.  Looking at other
technologies and their track record like nuclear, gas and even oil I believe
that wind is a proven and mature source of energy that works and has low risk

Fungisai Nota BEng(Hons) MIET

Fungisai N Nota's picture

When it comes to safety of the wind turbines and wind energy
it all then come down to what the comparison we are looking at. In the United
Kingdom as one of the above has duly noted that no loss of human life has been
attributed to wind turbines.  There have
been issues in the country side where it is said to have caused harm to wild
animals mainly birds as they try to migrate and the turbines are in their
flight path. When we look at the wind it is pollution free and with the global
economy trying to tackle and reduce the carbon footprint I believe that the
wind energy will go a long way to archive the goal. If we look at the risk that
is taking the ALARP into consideration the risk has to be as low as
possible.  Most people complain of the
sight and the noise and like any other technology technical problems do happen
at time. With even improved blades that try reduce the harming of the birds and
insects in flight.  Looking at other
technologies and their track record like nuclear, gas and even oil I believe
that wind is a proven and mature source of energy that works and has low risk

Fungisai Nota BEng(Hons) MIET

Derek Porter.'s picture

In my opinion the risk of wind energy causing harm to the environment and wildlife is an issue but not a significant one. I will argue that by managing this small risk now can eliminate a much larger risk that may develop in the future. It is a known fact that carbon emissions are raising the temperature of the planet, causing flooding such as New Orleans and increasingly unpredictable weather conditions. The replacement of fossil fuels is a huge step in reducing this carbon footprint and there is no better way for the UK to do than using our abundant renewable energy resource.

Angelos Hadjiantoni's picture


I couldn’t agree more.  Deaths of birds is a strong argument made by many.
 The Altamont Pass in California has the worst record for birds’ deaths but it was commissioned in 1981
when the research on wind was not that technically advanced as today.
 The turbines are now going to be replaced with more bird-friendly models in order to minimise the deaths.
Apart from specific site locations that these high number of deaths occurred,
blaming energy that causes a lot of  birds’ deaths is unfair.
Mackay includes some information about this issue in his book with the following figure:

As you can see if you compare the number of deaths caused by other reasons, wind turbines are the least hearmfull ones. Even though people are not going to eliminate the cats or stop driving cars.
That is why I believe since there is a lot of research to improve wind turbines even more,
people should consider them as enemy of the environment.

Best regars,

Angelos Hadjiantoni
MSc Renewable Energy

Sunstainable Energy- without the hot air, JC McKay ,2009

Wind energy is a clean energy and it seems riskless. However, it has some potential risks as well as other sources of energy in construction, operation and maintenance. I would like to elaborate on this issue by discussing a number of its risks on people.

Due to the height of wind turbines, there are some fatalities of workers in installation and maintanance of them. It is caused for exmple by falling down or getting trapped in the wind turbine housing or its blades. one major accident is fire, when a turbine's brake fails to work, it countinues spinning until it catches fire and in stormy weather, the fire can be spread over and pose a significant risk. Sometimes, in winter ice may be made on the blades. When the blade rotates, it will throw the ice from a high height which may cause risks. Headache, anxiety, sleep deprivation and dizziness are some problems reported to have relation with noise of wind turbines. It is called "wind turbine syndrome".

Although wind energy have some problems regarding human safety, it should be developed to meet the future's energy demands. I believe that the probability of finding  an energy source without risks is slim to none.





Wind energy is the process by
which the kinetic energy in the wind is used to generate mechanical power or
electricity. It is a free, clean, renewable source of energy.

Wind energy is very safe compared
to other sources of energy. It emits little or no air, land or sea pollutant,
thus the environmental impact is relatively low. The only potentially toxic or
hazardous materials are relatively small amounts of lubricating oils, hydraulic
and insulating fluids.  As we all know,
all forms of energy conversion system presents its own safety hazards and wind
energy is not an exception.

Safety issues in wind energy are
mainly associated with their construction, operation and maintenance.
Thousands of industrial sized wind
turbines have been installed and more are on-going. There have been fatalities
recorded due to these constructions. In operation, issues of turbine brake failure
can occur, which results to the blade spinning freely
until it disintegrates and catches fire. Most old turbines lack automatic fire
extinguishing system and cannot auto-detect ice formation and excess vibration
posing safety concerns to both the turbines and the environment.

Safety in
wind energy has improved significantly with the introduction of advanced
technology in the construction, operation and maintenance of the turbines.  Noise due to the rotation of the turbine has
diminished due to improved technology with more of the wind converted into
rotational torque and less into acoustic noise. The issue of wild life habitat
and aesthetic (visual) impacts have also improved. Bird and bat mortality is
minimal. Several large wind facilities have operated for years with only minor
impacts on these animals




Leziga Bakor's picture

Wind energy is a renewable source of energy and it is seen by many as being a clean source of energy. However there are still some issues with wind energy that is still of concern to safety. Some of the key safety issues are:
• Noise: Wind turbines usually generate large noise. This noise causes noise pollution and can have health effects on people who live or work close to the turbine
• Shedding of ice formed on the blade during start-up: Wind turbine built in areas where ice forms experiences this type of safety issue. Ice sometimes forms on the turbine blade and during start-up, the ice flies out of the blade at high speed. This ice can cause damage to lives and property.
• Shedding of part of the blade:  This occurs when part of the blade breaks and falls off. It sometimes breaks due to excessive high winds or mechanical failure.
• Lightning strikes causing fire: This is one area that has damaged several wind turbines built. Sometimes under lightning, the catch fire and get burnt.
As a result of these and several other issues, wind energy though a renewable source is still seen as relatively unsafe and there is still research on going to make it safer.  Wind farms are usually not built close to places where people stay so that when events like this occurs, it does not injure people.

In conclusion, safety in wind energy still has to be improved upon as it still is a treat to the safety of the environment.

Oluwasegun Onasanya's picture

While it cannot be denied that wind turbines need to be a part of our domestic energy solution, it is clear that the industry
still has several issues to overcome.

Environment issues specific to the operation of wind energy operations includes but not limited to the following:
1.Visual impacts: Visual impacts associated with wind energy, typically concern the turbine themselves and impacts relating to their
interaction with the character of the surrounding landscape.

2.Noise: Wind turbines produce noise when operating. The noise is generated primarily from mechanical and aerodynamic sources-which
emanates from the movement of air around the turbine blades and tower.

3.Habitat alteration: The potential for alteration of terrestrial habitat associated with the construction and operation of onshore
wind turbines is limited given the relatively small individual footprints of these facilities.

4.Shadow Flicker and blade glint: Shadow flicker occurs when the sun passes behind the wind turine and casts a shadow. As the rotor
blades rotate, shadows pass over the same point causing an effect termed shadow flicker. This may become a problem when residences are
located near, or have a specific orientation to the wind turbine.

5.Working at height: Working at heights may be required during construction activities, including the assembly of wind tower components
and general maintenance activities during operations.

6.Blade/Ice Throw: A failure in the rotor blade or ice accretion can result in the throwing of a rotor blade or ice from the wind turbine
which may affect public safety, although the risk of ice throw is extremely low.

With the safety concerns that are associated to wind energy, i strongly beleive that as a renewable energy source, with no hazardous waste
after power generation, safety regulation systems can be put in place and enforced, which will reduce to the bearest minimum level injuries
and fatalities.


1. How safe is wind energy.
2. Environment, health and safety guidelines for wind energy.

Uko Bassey's picture

The emergence of renewable energies like solar energy and wind energy as explained above are growing sporadically. The wild spread of this is basically because of constant search to reduce green house emission and fight global warming as well as finding alternative energy to reduce the over dependence on fossil fuels. This evolution is not without serious risk and hazards of different sorts. Wind farms has recorded substantial amount of casualties in the form of near misses, serious injuries, fatality and potential loss of lives. 

In the light the forgoing threats, wind energy industry is continuously on a path to significant growth and those who are a part of the industry or looking to join the industry face a number of decisions. One of the most important considerations is having a plan to manage exposure and minimize risk. This will be done by working with an insurance carrier and an agent with extensive renewable energy experience because developers can ensure that they have the right insurance coverage and risk management best practices in place to help build a successful business.

With proper maintenance of turbine equipment such as gear box components, tower metal, fasteners and the blades that are subject to wear and tear can help make a difference in the safety, longevity and production of each turbine. The wind energy industry will continue to flourish and remain as a clean source of energy.

Reference: (accessed 17/11/2012).

Richard Sedafor's picture


Wind energy is a vital energy source that feeds the global energy hunger. Wind energy supplies approximately 1.6% of the world's energy. This makes wind energy very prominent amongst the renewables.Despite this benefits, Wind energy also posses some risk to the environment and has caused many deaths.  A survey showed that wind energy registers 0.15 deaths per KWh. This makes wind energy more risky than Hydro power and Nuclear.

Though wind farms may be causing fatalities to workers, a research says its actually increasing some species of fish. A report from the Danish wind park Horns Rev. 1 shows that fishes are actually living in harmony with the wind farm placed there. The indicated that the turbines sunk soo deep into the seabed and are surrounded by a rim of huge stone piles which help to mininise sea erosion and provide some sort of artificial reefs for the fish and hence providing better conditions for the fish to thrive.

Earlier research have also suggested that wind farms have had some negative effects including effects on the aesthetics of the Landscape, noise, killing of birds, and disturbing the habitats of protected animals. While there are negatives to Wind farms, the quest for energy to feed emerging economies means that Wind energy can not be totally ignored. There has to be ways of incorporating it effectively into the energy mix of the future.



[2]Technical University of Denmark (DTU) (2012, April 10). Fish thriving around wind farms. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 19, 2012, from­ /releases/2012/04/120410093318.htm


amaka.ikeaka's picture

The overdependence on electricity and high power consumption in today's society is generally increasing the demand for energy production. With the growing threat of global warming and climatic change, it is essential to move away from energy sources that create emissions towards clean and renewable energy sources. Wind power is an excellent option for sustainable energy production. It is however associated with a couple of environmental, social and health impact during preconstruction, construction and during its operational phase. The impacts are localized and do not have greater impact on the larger environment. Some of the environmental hazards include:


Complaint: Several people claim that wind turbines create considerable noise, which is a nusiance, while others insist that the turbines emit inaudbile, low frequency sound(infrasound) that causes headaches and other physical aliments.

Fact: Turbines don't make sufficient noise to cause heath problems. They produce noise at 35-45 decibels(same noise level as a quiet bedroom)

Disruption of Avian Life

Complaint: Animal lovers are quick to accuse wind turbines of disrupting the migratory path of birds, as well as leading to their demise by means of collision.

Fact: Birds fly into buildings/windows all the time, but we would never demolish our houses to protect birds. Global warming is a larger threat to birds than wind turbines.

Water Quality

Complaint: With the installation of turbine foundations and underground cables, the land would be prone to erosion and sedimentation of surface waters.

Preventive Measure: The installation of structural components should take into consideration the sensitive life-cycle periods, and the use of silt curtains should be encouraged in order to contain turbidity from underwater construction.

Landscape Eyescore

Complaint: Several people claim that the presence of wind turbines creates significanct eyesores in their otherwise pristine landscapes.

Fact: Wind turbines are easier on the eyes than nuclear power plants. Their designs are sleek and futuristic, not unsightly and bulky.

After decades of modern wind power revival, this source of energy is here to stay. In the future, improvements in efficiency, design, cost and grid storage will make wind power an even more desirable energy option.

In attempt to diversify this discussion blog, I have opted to discuss some environmental impacts of wind turbines.

One environmental issue associated with wind turbines is the noise it generates. wind turbines generate noise aerodynamically( from the blades) and mechanically (from the rotary motor). the noise level from both componets could be measured to determine the overall noise level of a wind farm. according to, the number of wind turbines present on a farm could be limited by the noise level accompanied with each turbine.

Another environmental issue relative to wind turbine as pointed out by is its interferrence with Television signal. wind tuurbines have been identified to interfere with TV reception.

furthermore,, identifies only two scenarios where wind turbines could potentially be a source of harm to the general public. these include:

1. if part or the full blade is shed as a result of mechnical failure or other unforeseen circumstances such as lightining strikes.

2. if Ice or other forms of debris accumulated on the turbine is shed during start up operations.

 these situations, while they have been documented, have not been known to cause any severe injuries.


Kyle McFarlane's picture

I think that in order to be objective about the risks associated to the installment and maintenace of windfarms we have to keep in mind the youth of the industry. When compared to coal burning power plants and oil production platforms wind energy is relatively new. Therefore it is perfectly natural that there is high risks asscosicated  with these systems as there is still no real industry best practice for them. It may be an unfair comparison to bring to mind how dangerous oil and coal works were in their infancy due to the safety culture we hold to now. However the point is the same, it is important to work to mitigate the risks until systems are put in place to ensure workers safety once all risk sources and hazards have been identified.

 I feel that given time to develop the risks posed by this industry can be effectively mitigated. There are risks involved in all power generating practices, given time we can work towards making wind energy safe.

AndrewRCarss's picture

Kyle, you make an interesting point that relates very much to the “bathtub curve” discussed in Dr Tan’s lecture on classic reliability theory.

There is no doubt that building 100m high structures 20km offshore is a hazardous profession.

If we are to draw a comparison with the bathtub curve, the industry is in the “early failure period”. The industry had 160 accidents in 2011 [Dr Tan’s 1st lecture], that is more accidents than the oil and gas industry for the same period!

It’s not only the safety element that is suffering high failure rates in this infancy period. As my colleagues above have pointed out, the failure rate of the turbines brakes, blades and gearing systems is also an issue.

However, wind farms are in their infancy as an industry, and I am sure as the industry starts to mature we will see the incident and failure rates reduce and stabilise. 

Andrew Carss - MSc Subsea Engineering (DL)


Under the condition of strong wind, it is likely that leaves of windmill
could break down because of high torque when the rotational speed of windmill
exceeds safety value. A report from MIT said, impact on local climate and
surface temperature could be result from wind turbine generator system. At
night, normally there is a warm air layer upon another cold air layer and this
kind of structure composes a stable atmosphere. However, on account of
continuous rotation of numerous windmills, the air of upper layer which has
higher temperature could be taken to the surface whilst cold air on the surface
rises which may lead to the increasing of surface temperature at night. In the
meantime, it is a threat to animals, especially to bats and bird as well.

Craig Donaldson's picture

With regards to your first point, they should be locked in place when high winds are forecast. Obviously this doesn't always happen as exposed by recent examples but the safety measure is there to be used.


Your second point is an interesting one, you have raised concern about the wind turbine effecting air flow patterns. However, wouldn't that only be relevant on a calm, still night where there is no wind because normally the winds natural turbulence will move the air about (the hot air would always still rise up again). Obviously though if there is no wind then the turbine won't move either and thus the air will be stable.

Do you also mean that the generator system is producing extra heat which is affecting the air temperatures in the vicinity of the turbine? If so I do not think this is a valid concern because all buildings would have this same effect and depending on their insulation are likely to be far more significant.


I understand what you are getting at but could you post a link to the report so I can get a better understanding of it?

Maxwell Otobo's picture

As compared to all other energy industries, the wind energy sector has a role to act responsibly, both in reducing or minimizing the impact of wind turbines on the environment and also towards the health and safety of humans and animals. in the UK for example, there is an organization "the Caithness wind farm information forum" which gathers data on wind power related accidents and design problems(3) .

The following are problems/safety issues associated with the wind energy sector;

1. Noise from the wind turbines - which is caused mechanically from rotating machinery and also aerodynamically (from blades) and are only detectable for a short period of time during low wind speeds where at higher wind speeds, the ambient noise level caused by the wind noise from trees and buildings tend to be large enough to mask the turbine noise (1) .

2. Species mortality or injury - generally, wildlife live in harmony with wind turbine in wind farms. Operation of wind turbine may result in collision of birds and bats with turbine blades causing mortality or injury. Evidence to date shows that there is minimal risk to birds where there are few cases of injuries sustained by birds as a result of collision (1). This should also be considered alongside the number of bird deaths caused by collision with other structures e.g radio masts, electricity pylons, aircraft, vehicles etc

3. Blade/ice throw - turbines could cause damage to the society in cases where the blades shed during operation or where ice which has formed on the blades shed during start-up (especially in colder regions). A few cases of such occurrences have been experienced worldwide and in Europe, there are no known cases where it has resulted in injury.

4. Water quality - installation of underground cables, turbine foundations and access roads may result in erosion and sedimentation of surface water. There are safety measures which help to prevent and control erosion (1).

5. Fire - although some turbines are prone to fire than others, in the case of a fire breakout (turbine fire), the biggest problem is that the fire brigade has just little to do and watch the fire burn out. This is as a result of the turbine height.

There are still a few problems faced by the wind energy industry but the above mentioned ones are of major concern and having briefly assessed them, one could easily come to a conclusion that all these compared with nuclear power, coal, oil power plant and other sources of energy shows that wind energy is safe and according to the US department of energy, wind turbines have a safe and reliable history(2).



ZHANGYANAN's picture

Wind energy

Wind is a sort of natural phenomenon on the
earth. It is caused by solar radiant heat. When the sunshine heats the earth,
the temperature on the different parts of earth is variant. That leads to the
difference in temperature which causes the convection in atmosphere. It is the
wind form. Wind energy is the kinetic energy of air. Its capability depends on
the density of the atmosphere and the speed of the wind. People have used wind
as a kind of clean, safe and renewable energy for about 40 years. As the
development of technology on the renewable energy, people focus on the safety
gradually. There are some hazards of the wind energy.

Negative impact on the animals.

The ecological problem of the wind energy is that the wind
power may disturb the birds. For example the grouse gradually disappear in
Kansas after the windmills set up. The current solution is the offshore power
generation, but it costs a lot.

Sound pollution.

The wind turbines will make such a big noise when generate
the electricity. So people need to find some open space to build them.

The decommission facilities.

When some of the wind turbines out of using, the waste
materials will be a big problem.

Now, the wind power technology is not developed, there is still a
considerable space for development.


Zhang Yanan ID: 51233945


Henry Tan's picture

Discussions with previous similar posts should be provided.

Harrison Oluwaseyi's picture

Due to growing concerns about the environmental impact such as release of green house gases, particulate matter,water and air contamination by coal ash etc

of burning fossil fuels like coal,liquid petroleum or natural gas etc, engineers and scientist have sort out better means of providing the energy 

requirements for the survival of man. Other means of energy generation have been introduced such as use of wind turbines, nuclear power plants,

solar cells, solar panels etc.These other forms also have there advantages and disadvantages, but this piece talks about the safety in wind energy indutry.

Just like every other sector the wind energy needs to be safe and environmentally friendly.Wind energy is obtained from wind by strategically placing wind turbines

in windy areas, these wind turbines majorly consist of a long pole, 3blades and a mechanical motor. The energy is obtained by transforming the kinectic 

energy as the blades rotate into  mechanical energy and this energy is used to produce electricity.This process seems to be very simple and straight forward

but there are dangers involved from the process of clearing the land for installation to the decommissioning stage.

Although, recent surveys by the Department of Labour(U.S) reported about 75 wind turbiune accidents since 1972,these values dont involve death or injury. These numbers

might seem very small, but the probability is relatively high compared to other energy industries. The wind energy industry is associated with indutrial 

risks as a result of its workers operating under hazardous conditions involving: 

1)Hazardous weather conditions.

2)Working at heights greater than 100m.

3)Lightening strikes causing fire.

4)Overheating of generators and transmission lubrication

5)Handling heavy equipment

6)Tower Collapse

7)Vehicular access

8)Impact on wildlife(birds, bats)

9)Climate change

10)Life span

11)Ice shedding

Many of the accidents that occur in this energy sector occur as a result of ignoring safety standards and adopting shortcuts instead of the standards set.Before

this research I used to think wind energy was the safest way to produce energy with zero fatality,I will still say it is safe but the safety regulations 

associated with it the installation, maintainance and decommisioning should be strongly adhered 


1)04/30/2007"Environmental, Health, and Safety Guidelines for Wind Energy"

2)M. Ragheb 03/10/2012 "Safety of Wind Systems".

Tianchi You's picture

In my personal opinion, compared with other forms of energy, wind energy is relatively safe; however, there are still drawbacks of wind energy. As we know, the negative effects from wind energy are existed, such as noise produced by the wind turbine which may affect wildlife and people's life, the technology is not mature enough which may result in the broken of blade and then affect the transportation of electricty. For example, in 24th of February,2011, there was an accident happened in a Chinese wind farm called Gansu west bridge wind farm. There was something wrong with the cable head, and then it affected 598 wind turbines in 16 wind farms. Fortunately, that accident did not result into any fatility,but it did have a negative effect on the local and national electricity system. The wind turbine is big, the blade is designed to last for 20years, since the wind energy is becoming more and more popular ,there is a lot of wind blades decommission waiting for people to change it. We can not make sure that the huge wind blade will not cause any damage to people. This is the second reason why it is not safe. Thirdly, the manufacturing and operation of wind turbine is not easy to be satisfied. There are a few cases in Europe however UK is not included happened which resulted into injuries and a few fatilities because of the bad weather conditions.

Consequently, the technology of wind energy still needs to be improved and people also need to provide some useful ways for the emergency which may happen in some high-risk locations( normally the accident may happen in bad weather location)





Tianchi You


Oil&Gas engineering's picture

Wind power generation may interfere with birds in the ecological issues, for instance, the grouses has gradually disappeared when windmills came into American state Kansas. As a matter of fact, the solution to balance the needs and the environment is to offshore power generation. However, this activity may lead to higher cost whilst the efficiency is high.
In some areas, wind power generation efficiency is inadequate. Many parts of the wind is intermittent and more bad situation is such as Taiwan, the electric power demand is higher in summer day, but that is the wind less time. This means that people must wait for compressed air and energy storage technology development.
wind power generation needs a large number of land building wind farms that can produce more energy. During the generation process, there will be a huge noise, so these farms should be placed in open areas.

Limit in utilization
Wind power utilization has some limit and disadvantages
1) wind speed is not stable, the energy produced is uncertain
2) wind power utilization is serious limited by the geographical position
3) wind energy conversion efficiency rate is low
4) wind power is the new energy, the use of the corresponding equipment also is not very mature's picture

Wind power generation may interfere with birds in the ecological issues, for instance, the grouses has gradually disappeared when windmills came into American state Kansas. As a matter of fact, the solution to balance the needs and the environment is to offshore power generation. However, this activity may lead to higher cost whilst the efficiency is high.
In some areas, wind power generation efficiency is inadequate. Many parts of the wind is intermittent and more bad situation is such as Taiwan, the electric power demand is higher in summer day, but that is the wind less time. This means that people must wait for compressed air and energy storage technology development.
wind power generation needs a large number of land building wind farms that can produce more energy. During the generation process, there will be a huge noise, so these farms should be placed in open areas.

Limit in utilization
Wind power utilization has some limit and disadvantages
1) wind speed is not stable, the energy produced is uncertain
2) wind power utilization is serious limited by the geographical position
3) wind energy conversion efficiency rate is low
4) wind power is the new energy, the use of the corresponding equipment also is not very mature

Angelos Hadjiantoni's picture

Hello everyone,

Even though the issues about wind turbines have been analyzed
in a great extend in this topic, I would like to add my opinion.
First of all I believe that over the years safety in wind power
has increased a lot and also a lot of development has been made
with many improvements as a result.
The number of deaths associated with wind energy is one of the lowest according to MacCKay (2009),
 was approximately 0.25 death/MWhy.
If you compare this with other energy sources it becomes obvious that wind power is safer
in contrast to what most people think.
No energy source will ever be totally safe.
We must not be complacent by the numbers. T
hat’s why there is constant research in the sector of wind energy.

Best regards,

Angelos Hadjiantonis
MSc Renewable Energy

Source: Sunstainable Energy- without the hot air, JC McKay ,2009

AndrewRCarss's picture

Hello Angelos, 

If you are to analyse deaths per TWh, yes, it appears that wind power is becoming safer. Pre 2000, the deaths per TWh was around 0.4 and today the figure is nearer 0.15. (This is still more deaths than hydro and nuclear).

However, I do not believe we can get the whole picture simply by looking at this one statistic.

I would urge you to look at the accident statistics on the Caithness Wind Farm Forum. It tells a different story.

I cannot agree with you that the construction is becoming safer. Wind towers are becoming taller and are being constructed in much more challenging environments than before. Surely this will make the production of wind energy more hazardous?

Andrew Carss - MSc Subsea Engineering (DL)

haroon latif's picture

Wind energy is definitely a clean form of energy generation and the UK Government has committed to investing billions of pounds in wind energy as it looks to reduce its carbon footprint. But the safety issues are still of concern to the public, as mentioned in some of the comments in this blog and also on Windbyte’s website.

I would like to expand on Andrew’s comment about wind energy though, I believe the UK Government (and companies with interest in wind technology such as Sea Energy and Areva) are trying to overlook these risks and hazards, by building the majority of wind farms offshore, away from human life. However it must be noted, that every energy technology to date has had problems during its pioneering stage, and it is the same with wind energy. It will take some time to eliminate and reduce all risks and hazards to the general public and environment – but ultimately, I believe wind energy will continue to grow and become a major player in the UK’s energy landscape.

Ref: Overview Of Scottish onshore wind energy sector Scottish Development International Accessed December 7th 2012

Haroon Latif MSc Oil and Gas Engineering

There are some situations where wind turbine leads to some safety issues. These are, when a part like blade of a turbine is broken, when turbine catches fire, Ice throw, Structural Failure, Transportation.Blade Failure: Blade failure is one of the common causes of incidents. Around 200 separate incidents were identified. Blade failure can be a piece of blade or whole blade thrown from the turbine. Pieces of blade thrown can travel a distance of one mile. There is an incident in Germany n which the blade had gone through roof and walls of a nearby house.Fire:Fire in turbine can be caused by number of sources and some turbines are more prone to fire. Around 190 such incidents were reported. In a stormy condition this fire can cause serious problems. The fire debris will be spread to nearby area by this wind. Structural Failure:Structural failure is the third most common accident cause in a wind farm. Poor quality, lack of maintenance and component failure is responsible for the structural failure. This is the most damaging and expensive failure. The consequence of this failure is high.Transportation and ice throw are also some of the main safety issues in wind farm. Reference

Safety in Wind energy

Discussion about safety in wind energy is a paramount and
important part of engineering where safety regulations are optimally necessary
and important.

The Caithness windfarm information forum (CWI) is an organisation
that keeps records on accident and safety records about windfarm energy source
in the UK. They have highlighted the accident rate over 15years of operational

The graph below shows CWI’s accident record between 1995 and
2011 [2].

 (kindly check graphical image from reference 2) 

With the increasing accident rate within this energy sector,
HSE declared a minimum distance at which the wind turbines can be installed
farther apart from occupied accommodation.

Recently, abandoned platforms ready to be decommissioned are
under discussion and decision to be converted into wind energy farm. This decision
might be safer since the installation is farther away from accommodation sites.

Among the accident caused by wind energy, blade failure is
the most dangerous and common. Therefore, as a safety measure, for workers working
onsite in a windfarm, when wind speed exceeds 55mph, as a standard precautionary
 , staffs are expected to vacate the windfarm.



AndrewRCarss's picture

Hello Adedejie,

Yes, it is true that the accident rate in the sector is increasing as you have pointed out in your figure, also discussed in lecture 2. However, I cannot agree with your statement that the HSE has declared a minimum separation distance because of the increasing accident rate.

Windfarm separation guidelines vary throughout the UK. In Scotland we have a guideline, taken from the  Scottish Planning Policy, of 2km that a Windfarm development has to keep clear of any local communities. This is more to do with the visual impact rather than any safety concerns. This compares to 500m in Wales where the primary concern is the noise impact of the Windfarm developments.

The 2km limit is only a guideline, and there is no statutory obligation, in this country, for the developer to adhere to it.

Your following point on the use of decommissioned platforms as part of a Windfarm development is an interesting one. This is a good idea. Not because of safety reasons, as I still believe this to be more dangerous than the construction of an onshore development, but from the point of sustainable development. This must be investigated further.

This is a good example of an integrated approach to planning where two different sectors come together to share resources. It is also likely to benefit the developer of the Windfarm through knowledge sharing with the platform development. 


Andrew Carss - MSc Subsea Engineering (DL)

sreehariprabhu's picture

Wind energy is one of the most used renewable energy. Since the fossil fuels lead to create a lot of pollution and also since the use of renewable energy is increasing, wind energy technology is becoming more popular. Wind turbines cause no actual emissions throughout their operation and subsequent generation of electricity. This means that, for every equivalent unit of energy substituted from fossil fuels, wind turbines prevent the release of greenhouse gases and air pollutants, which warm the planet and contribute to serious health problems such as various lung diseases. But there are certain hazards related with them. While on operation, they emit noise as they rotate which may have severe impacts on the human ears especially if the turbines are located near homes. Other problem is that the oscillating shadows formed due to rotating blades which leads to optical disturbances of residents. So while considering about the location, it should be kept away from residential areas.

Other problems include the location and environmental conditions. If the blades of a wind mill are covered with ice, it may affect the normal working of the blades and may lead to safety problems. While looking at the personnel safety, there are many reports which show fatalities and injuries caused from falling from heights. More care must be taken while working in heights. If we can minimize these problems, wind energy will become a clean source of energy which is much safer.

 Sreehari Ramachandra Prabhu

amir masoud bayat's picture

The generation of electricity from wind turbines is safe since there are no environment risks or safety concerns about the exploration, extraction, transportation and disposal of fuel. Also it does not need any type of fuel and does not release carbon dioxide and toxic pollutants or conventional air pollutants.

On the other hand, the operation and constraction of wind turbines in both offshore and onshore states can have potential negative effects on birds. The spinningblades of wind turbines can pose a safety concern about bats and birds because they may fly into them. Also, wind turbines should be strong and able to stand up to storms and strong wind especially when they are near populated areas.


environmental impact assessment (EIA)

Kelvin Arazu's picture

There are two situations where wind turbines could cause damage to a member of the general public. These are Turbines shedding a part of a blade or, in exceptional circumstances, a whole blade, due to lightning strikes or mechanical failure

Ice, which has formed on a turbine blade, being ‘shed' when the turbine starts up.

There have been a few cases, worldwide, of such occurrences. These incidents have usually occurred in bad weather when few people are around and in Europe there are no know cases where injury has resulted [1].

Wind turbines are like most other engineering products such as car or aircraft; they are designed to operate to high standards of safety. However there have been a very small number of injuries and fatalities to operational staff across the world, though none has been reported in the UK [1].  In my opinion, the accidents in wind turbine operation have been caused by a failure to observe manufacturers' and operators' instructions. These few instances should be viewed in the context of the number of turbines worldwide (over 50,000), the vast majority of which have been operating safely since they were built.


eddy itamah's picture

It was reported in press and journal on the 21st November, 2009 how children at an island primary were sent home after a newly installed wind turbine next to the school collapsed. Before the sudden collapse of the wind turbine, it was gathered that the 6KW, 50ft turbine machine which was installed at the school earlier in November, was generating serious noise, before the turbine then went down, landing in the school playground. From survey carried out by frontier pro service in california, united states, shows that wind farms are potentially at serious risk owing largely to the industry wide shortage of qualified turbine technicians. The report also state that many wind farm operations and maintenance teams are constrained in terms of resource, that they barely meet up with unscheduled repairs maintenance required by wind turbine to generate electricity. Even normal regular preventive maintenance schedule like oil replacement and gearbox lubrication are falling far behind as manufacturers face shortage in qualified technicians. The largest amount of downtime, maintenance and power loss is as a result of gearbox failures. This failure can total 15 - 20% of the price of the turbine itself, making wind turbine and gearbox maintenance a high priority.

It was also reported in North Ireland on how a 16 -foot wind turbine smashed through the roof of a farmer as his family were asleep inside his house. The farmer described the incident as horrifying, "it was like a bomb hitting the roof of the house". Furthermore, if a turbine brake fails, the turbine spin freely until it disintegrates or catches fire. Although this is a rare case as major turbine fire or disintegration are in the order of 0.001% for over 20 - 25years lifespan of modern wind turbine. But with modern wind turbines, an automatic fire extinguishing system like that of a jet aircraft Engines are built into the turbine. This automatically detect fire, order a shut down of the turbine unit and immediately extinguish the fires completely. This new technology can be retrofited into the older ones for similar application to reduce the environmental and safety hazard associated with outburst of fire on the wind turbine.




Oghenekevwe Ovbije's picture

Wind energy is a renewable form of energy generated from wind (gusts) and windmills know as wind turbines. The gusts cause the blades of the turbine to rotate and it drives the generator which will convert kinetic energy to electrical energy. Their locations vary, either onshore or offshore [1]. The energy produced is clean, safe and free of emissions that pollutes the atmosphere. The only safety concerns with this form of energy are the issues related to the construction, operation and maintenance of the wind turbines. Some of the safety issues are:

•Noise pollution – noise from the rotor
•Death of birds
•Ice – depending on the weather, ice can be formed on the blades and thrown off the blade into surrounding areas as it rotates.
•Excessive land use which poses a risk to the agricultural sector                                                                                  •Sudden fire outbreak from turbine                                                                                                                               •Visual obstruction
•Uncontrolled wind turbine blades flying off to residential areas.
•Contamination of the soil - lubricating and hydraulic oil leaking from the wind turbine

This industry has till date tried to mitigate this problems by modifying the design of the wind turbine, new wind turbines rotate at a lower speed to enable birds see and avoid them, using insulating materials and sitting them properly. New turbines have atuomatic fire extinguishers in case of fire outbreaks

[1] Anne Maczulak PD. Chapter 5 - Innovation in Clean Energy. Renewable Energy Sources and Methods. Infobase, 2010:109-114.

eddy itamah's picture

A quick summary of
the wind related accident occurrence is described in the table below to give an
insight into the inherent safety problems associated with wind energy. This
little compendium of accident information as reported by renewable UK confirmed
that about 1500 wind turbine accidents have occurred in the united kingdom for
the past 5years. The report also shows that from 2006 - 2010, about 142
accidents have occurred in the united kingdom, which only represents 9% of the
total statistics.

It is believed that
this trend will continue as more wind turbines are built, as number of recorded
accidents reflect this. It is evident from report that an average of 6
accidents per year occurred between 1992 - 1996, 22accidents per year from 1997
- 2001, 70 accidents per from 2002 - 2006 and 133 accidents per year from 2007
- 2011. This is actually a reflection of the safety problems inherent in wind
energy as more and more wind turbines are built.

This surge in the
number of wind energy related accident is predicted to be on the increase,
except HSE make significant changes in protecting the public by affirming a
considerably safe distance between new turbine developments and housing and
buildings occupied.

It is becoming
apparent that some countries are now finally accepting that industrial wind
turbines can pose huge impact of risk to public safety. In New Zealand,
Australia, and even Scotland the government have set a guidelines forbidding
wind turbine construction within 2KM between large wind farm developments and
communities. Also, in the city of Ontario, Canada, the government has declined
a moratorium on offshore wind projects and has recommended a reduction of noise
from wind turbines from 40dB to 30 - 32dB, which would effectively extend the
setback distance from homes.

Of the fatalities,
75 were wind industry and support workers (i.e) maintenance, divers,
construction engineers or small turbine owner operator. And 50 casualties
relate to the public (i.e) workers not depending on wind industry directly.
Example of this was the accident in Brazil in March 2012 were 17 bus passengers
were killed in a single incident.




Total number of
accident by year: 1292




































Number of fatal
accidents by year till 30th sept. 2012: 96


































Andrew Strachan's picture

Eddy, I was a little confused by your post and wanted to clarify a few things....

"... reported by renewable UK confirmed that about 1500 wind turbine accidents have occurred in the united kingdom for the past 5 years."

Yes, according to an article in the Telegraph [1] Renewable UK reported 1500 accidents 300 injuries and 3 deaths from 2006 to 2010.

"...The report also shows that from 2006 - 2010, about 142
 accidents have occurred in the united kingdom, which only represents 9% of the total statistics."

No, the report you are now actually referring to is not from Renewable UK, but Caithness Windfarm Information Forum (CWIF) [2] which is a windfarm protest site. On this site is data CWIF have compiled on accidents relating to wind turbines, however their accident tally of 142 UK accidents for the 2006-2010 period is lower than the official Renewable UK figures of 1500 for the same period. Based on this, the suggestion is made by CWIF that their overall data (UK and global statistics) may only represent 9% of actual accidents.

Particulary misleading/confusing is that your analysis then goes on to use global statistics (whilst not really stating that you are doing so) to claim the wind energy industry accident rate is on an upward trend.




Joan.C.Isichei's picture

I agree with the general consensus on this topic that wind energy isn’t as safe as previously thought. From Giorgio’s post, most  wind-related accidents and fatalities occur in the construction, maintenance and transportation stages. Also, I’ll like to add that most of these Fatalities result from Slip, Trip and Falls(STFs) from height, especially from the Nacelles of Wind Turbines. However, to reduce the number of accidents arising from  STFs, safety measures to check falling from height have been implemented but are considered to be Low level Safety solutions. A company called Uniline proposed a novel solution known as UniRail which “can keep workers in a restraint position, but is capable of arresting user falls, facilitating rescue and providing a system for suspended access work, including inspection and cleaning”[1].  

To conclude, I believe all hope is not lost with the issue of Wind Energy. As Connie shellock pointed out in her post, there is the factor of time. As wind energy technology progresses, newer standards and technologies such as UniRail which help safeguard life will be put in place. 



Justice J. Owusu's picture

Wind energy is the harnessing air movement by wind turbine to generate power (can also be used for grinding grains – windmill, and for pumping purposes – wind pump). It is a renewable source of energy available in both on- and offshore environment. The main safety hazards associated with wind turbine are:

1.       Working
from height – a typical the wind turbine consists of an upwind three-blade
rotor mounted on top of a tall tower. Installation and maintenance of this
equipment has an associated hazard of working from height.

2.       Contact with moving part

3.       Electrocution

4.       Risk of the tower being struck by lightning

5.       Lifting and installing the tall tubular tower pose risk, etc.

Offshore installations are worse because of possible large waves, environmental conditions, diving, etc.  One thing that increases the risk of wind turbine is the fact that they are required to be maintained regularly, meaning the working team is exposed to these hazards regularly.

Thomas James Smith's picture

Personally I like the idea of wave and wind energy and would much rather see a coastline wind farm that a coastline nuclear PowerStation.  However there are, as with all construction projects, safety concerns around there’re fabrication, transportation to site, installation and maintenance of these large wind turbines.  

The turbines require large lorries with wide load capabilities to transport the parts form the fabrication yard to the site, causing some issues on the road network.  Heavy lifts are required (LOLER) on the construction site while assembling.  Maintenance of the large turbines can also be hazardous as the power that drives them, wind, can’t be turned off for maintenance.  So I assume there is a reliance on a turbine breaking system while maintaining them.

Statistics are showing an upward trend on the number of accidents and fatalities and without the HSE’s intervention this trend may continue to grow.  

This trend could be due to the increase in numbers of turbines, and the fact that this is a young industry that has not taken lessons learned form other industries on hazard identification and management.

Mostafa Tantawi's picture

Wind energy
is estimated to form around 20% EU energy demand in 2020. In order to achieve a
better efficiency of wind turbines and to reduce the cost of wind energy, new
designs is introduced with improved maintenance schedule and increased
reliability, especially for offshore wind turbines because of their urban
nature and severe working conditions. The gearbox is one of the important
subsystems in an indirect drive wind turbine providing the functions of
transferring power from the low speed turbine shaft at high torque to the high
speed generator shaft at low torque. The gearbox is one of the most expensive
parts in the wind turbine (for a 5MW wind turbine the gearbox forms 13% of the
cost). The field reliability study of modern wind turbines shows a reduction in
failure rates of the gearbox subsystem in comparison with other subsystems.
However, the gearbox has a low availability due to its high downtime per
failure and gearbox failure incurs high costs for repair.


Reliability Analysis and
Prediction of Wind Turbine Gearboxes,
European Wind Energy
Conference (EWEC 2010)

Mostafa Tantawi
Masters Of Subsea Engineering, University of Aberdeen

Thomas James Smith's picture

Although I like the idea, the look and the concept of wind energy, I’m aware that there are some health concerns around wind turbine installations.  A new wind turbine seams to pop up every day around where I live.  Currently there are at least twelve wind turbines in view of my house.  My neighbour has complained of dizziness, fatigue, headaches, and palpitations that she feels are a direct result of the many wind turbines being installed in and around our area.  Whether this is a psychological reaction or real effect of the installation of turbines will require further research to prove or disprove the link.

Further information on research conducted in Canada can be found on the attached link.

 Safety of Wind Energy

Wind turbines are seen as a green, renewenable energy source
but like all energy production there are issues with safety.

Noise pollution is large concern due to the impact on the
quality of life of people in close proximity to the wind turbines. Noise
pollution can cause stress and sleeping issues.

“Noise from wind turbines is less than many other everyday
country activities”( Department of Trade and Industry, 2011)

Wind turbines are usually in rural areas and the noise
pollution is more noticeable even though other activities noise pollution, the
wind turbine’s noise production is more constant.

Falling objects is another safety issue with wind energy.
The severity can large ranging from the rare occurrence of a blade failure,
turbine blade fragments to ice falling during colder weather.

The biggest threat to safety is to the service technicians.
The safety issues are magnified to the regularity of maintenance required for
wind turbines and the close proximity. 
The issues mention above falling objects and noise plus additional
issues the risk of falling from heights, fires, electrocution and moving
machinery. The high winds make construction and maintenance more difficult and
increase the likelihood of an accident occurring. Offshore pose greater issues
with waves creating emphasis problems in construction and the maintenance.



James Parry
MSc Subsea Engineering

Mehran Vakil's picture

In the past, especially the last two decades, excessive consumption of conventional fuels have brought about many threatening factors. Greenhouse gas emissions as well as production of pollutants have been prominent hazardous factors to human life and environment. Pursuant to the fact of these circumstances, the renewable source of energies have been introduced and one of them which has drawn tremendous attention to itself has been WIND energy.
Albeit wind power has myriad benefits such as cutting emission of  greenhouse gas and also reliability of utilizing this method, it is inescapable that it has its own safety issues. However, the magnitude of the problem is less than the other source of energy (Coemi 2012). But, according to the reports, death of birds is the main hazard for ecosystem. Unfortunately, there are approximately 70,000 birds and bats are died per annum. Also disturbing the homeowners due to the noise of spinning wind turbines are the other undesired consequences (Quora 2012).
On the other hand congealing the water on the turbine’s surfaces and slating due to spinning round of them is the other jeopardize of this renewable energy, particularly in freezing temperature (Tyler Moses 2009).
To put it in a nutshell, I would like to cite that wind power is undoubtedly a green source of energy and its risks derived from the operational system and also the other reasons is definitely inevitable.

1)COEMI. 2012. advantages of wind power [Online]. Available: [Accessed 24/11 2012].
2)MOSES, T. 2009. How Safe is Wind Energy? [Online]. Available: [Accessed 24/11 2012].
3)QUORA. 2012. Wind Power: How significant is bird and bat mortality due to wind turbines? [Online]. Available: [Accessed 24/11 2012].

Tilak Suresh Kumar's picture

In response to a proposed national study by Health Canada on wind turbine sound and human health, the American, Australian, Canadian, European, Global and United Kingdom wind energy industry associations point to seventeen reviews of independent research and evidence that all conclude wind is not harmful to human health.

According to the wind energy industry associations, wind energy is regarded as one of the safest forms of electricity generation. At the end of 2011 there was 237,669 MW of installed wind energy capacity around the world. Wind energy is a leading source of new electricity globally and is operating in more than 89 countries.

Tilak Suresh Kumar's picture

“As a responsible industry that has been delivering clean electricity for more than 30 years, we collectively continue to engage with experts in science, medicine and occupational and environmental health to monitor ongoing credible research in the area of wind turbines and human health. While Health Canada’s proposed new study may contribute to the significant knowledge base on this topic, the balance of scientific evidence and human experience to date clearly concludes that wind turbines are not harmful to humans,” according to a joint statement signed by the American Wind Energy Association, Australia’s Clean Energy Council, the Canadian Wind Energy Association, the European Wind Energy Association, Global Wind Energy Council and Renewable UK.




there are regulations to the construction and operation of wind turbines and to develop wind power but
there is still a lot of apathy to its safety, perhaps because of its somewhat
remote location and few hazards thus far.

of the 1292 accidents recorded thus far, 96 of which were fatal have
caused multiple death in the tune of 3 to 13 deaths.

safety issues that have been recorded with wind turbines are due to blade
failure, fire, structural failure, ice throw and transport.

Further to my previous post ‘the problem’ on this blog;
this is an expansion of some of the identified accidents related to wind
turbine operation


Blade failure

By far the biggest number of wind turbine incidents is due
to blade failure with 249 different incidents. “Blade failure” can arise from a
number of possible sources, and results in either whole blades or pieces of
blade being thrown from the turbine. Pieces of blade are documented as
travelling up to one mile. Blade pieces have gone through the roofs and walls
of nearby buildings. Thus it might be necessary to increase the minimum
distance between turbines and occupied housing for a distance greater than the
present 1km.



Fire is the second most common accident cause in
incidents found. Fire can arise from a number of sources – and some turbine
types seem more prone to fire than others. The biggest problem with turbine
fires is that, because of the turbine height, the fire brigade can do little
but watch it burn itself out. While this may be acceptable in reasonably still
conditions, in a storm it means burning debris being scattered over a wide
area, with obvious consequences. In dry weather there is obviously a wider-area
fire risk, especially for those constructed in or close to forest areas and/or
close to housing.


It careful understanding and regulations on wind turbine would
drastically reduce the accidents and fatalities from wind turbine operation


Further to my previous post ‘the problem’ on this blog;
this is an expansion of some of the identified accidents related to wind
turbine operation


Blade failure

By far the biggest number of wind turbine incidents is due
to blade failure with 249 different incidents. “Blade failure” can arise from a
number of possible sources, and results in either whole blades or pieces of
blade being thrown from the turbine. Pieces of blade are documented as
travelling up to one mile. Blade pieces have gone through the roofs and walls
of nearby buildings. Thus it might be necessary to increase the minimum
distance between turbines and occupied housing for a distance greater than the
present 1km.



Fire is the second most common accident cause in
incidents found. Fire can arise from a number of sources – and some turbine
types seem more prone to fire than others. The biggest problem with turbine
fires is that, because of the turbine height, the fire brigade can do little
but watch it burn itself out. While this may be acceptable in reasonably still
conditions, in a storm it means burning debris being scattered over a wide
area, with obvious consequences. In dry weather there is obviously a wider-area
fire risk, especially for those constructed in or close to forest areas and/or
close to housing.


It careful understanding and regulations on wind turbine would
drastically reduce the accidents and fatalities from wind turbine operation


Andy Reid's picture

Ignoring the visual aspect of wind turbines, which is and will continue to be a source of contention, safety-related incidents due to wind turbine construction have, as one may expect, increased over time as the number of turbines constructed has increased[1]. Interestingly, the majority of these accidents were cause by "blade failure" i.e. whole blades or pieces thereof being thrown from the turbine. These have been known to travel for up to a mile and there have been over 200 occurrences since the year 2000. This presents a very real danger to occupied buildings near to wind turbines and there calls to have the minimum distance between turbines and occupied buildings increased to at least 2km.

Other failures such as structural failures and fires as results of storm or weather damage have also caused incidents but these have a much more limited affected area. In order for wind turbines to be truly "safe", they need to be completely isolated from populated areas because as they are they are potentially very hazardous, especially with smaller turbines being places on and around public buildings including schools.


Andy Reid



Further to my previous posts 'the problem' and 'two biggest incident type'

other incidents associated with wind turbines is during transportation of its blade and build up of ice on the vanes which is catapulted  when the turbine restarts.

To reduce occurences of such incidents (blade failure, fire, transport incident and snow build up), regulatons should be put up to allow only use of high grade materials and careful considerations must be given to their designs. Also several forms of automation could be adopted or introduced to reduce the effect of waether on wind turbine. perphaps heating the blades to melt ice before it start up operaton after a snowy waether is a possible solution.

Omololu Oyebola's picture

In the nearest
future, wind power is likely to be a major contributor towards renewable energy
targets (Scottish Planning Policy). However turbine fire, blade snapping due to
lightening, ice pile-up on blades, noise issues, ecology impact, aviation,
shadows flickering are major showstoppers and setbacks to this renewable energy
option. Making wind safety entails a lot and they include the following

A standard safety
zone should be especially in residential and playing grounds to prohibit
children from standing and houses from been erected (Ragheb M). Light
flickering which could lead to partial blindness is also an issue, arises when
strobes which are reflections from sun rays from turbine blade reflect towards
viewer. Wind farms should be prohibited as areas for sight-seeing (Bombace G)

Regulations such as
the testing of turbine blades before installation should be made mandatory;
this will make the system more reliable and reduce snapping especially during

Lighting Protection
Safety and Icing Shedding mechanism: Most wind turbine are sited on hill head
and troughs, thus making them prone to strikes and pathway for electricity to
the earth (Ragheb M, Safety of Wind Systems, 2012), to reduce this special
design standards me adopted in blade production such as the use of composite
materials, proper earthing of the turbine nacelle and the use of metal oxide

Peculiar site
characteristics: Wind Energy sources should be sited away from eruption prone
and topographically unstable areas.


Ragheb M, (2012), Safety of Wind Systems

Bombace, G, (1997). Protection of Biological Habitats by Artificial
Reefs. In A.C. (ed) European,

Scottish Planning Policy, (March 2007)

Subscribe to Comments for "Topic 6: Wind energy"

Recent comments

More comments


Subscribe to Syndicate