Wind power is a growing source of renewable energy in Europe and in Sweden especially, with the numbers of wind power stations more than doubling since 2010.
Therefore, optimisation and the opportunity of reducing disruptions in wind energy production are of great interest. Fire is one threat to wind energy production that, until now, has almost completely been overlooked, yet 10-30% of all loss of power generation incidents are due to fire in wind power plants.
“There is virtually no research in this area, and no rules or recommendations for fire safety design of wind turbines exists, which is surprising, given its importance” says researcher Anne Dederichs at SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden.
Researchers at SP have investigated fire safety in wind turbines intended to be used at sea, after identifying fire safety as a significant knowledge gap in the work on wind power. The results are now summarised in a new report.
“This report provides background information on the subject and should be interesting for the wind power industry, electrical industry and for researchers within the field,” says Anne Dederichs.
Despite the staggering amount of wind power stations in Sweden there is still surprisingly little information on their functionality. Data is almost non-existent within the framework of fire safety. Until now there have been few fire incidents in wind turbines, but large material damage can be expected as well as a risk of fatalities if a fire incident occurs. An important insight that emerged during this work is that fire safety must be included early in the construction phase of wind turbines.
“Optimisation of this power supply immediately strengthens the wind power industry, and also other sectors. In addition, it results in us having greater output of green electricity from wind,” says Anne Dederichs.
Together with an international consortium of researchers and industry SP wants to work on filling the fire safety gaps. To this end, SP initiated a conference and workshop on wind turbine fires recently at the Hilton Copenhagen Airport in collaboration with OffshoreVäst. This conference focused on the challenges of wind turbine fires and solutions including a review of the topic, the needs of the industry and different possibilities for funding of further research. The goal being to determine relevant questions for research, development and innovation with respect to optimising this source of energy.Fire safety in wind power stations is largely an unexplored area