In 2008, a school in the South-West installed a 15-metre diameter wind turbine which was designed to provide electricity for the school. It was intended that any surplus electricity would be sold to the Grid. The system was part of the Government's scheme to promote renewable energy as cheap, clean and efficient. This school, and many others, received grants from various bodies including EDF for installing turbines.
The turbine was not cheap or efficient. Nor was it safe.
It cost the school £55,000.
When a small turbine fails, it frequently does so catastrophically, sending shrapnel in unpredictable directions at high speed.
This is what happened at the school soon after the installation. The playing field was showered with debris. Fortunately no students were nearby, and there were no injuries.
Some readers will recall that my own turbine failed in a similar way about five years ago, and that I placed a report online. My accident occured at night, and again, luckily, no-one was injured. In my own case, pieces of blade approximately six inches long passed through the roof of my workshop as if it were paper, and embedded themselves in an interior wall. They are still there.
The governors of the school have been in dispute with the suppliers, Proven Energy, for four years. The company has gone into administration, which means that the school will not be reimbursed.
The chairman of the school governors, S.H, said that the turbine, of rated capacity 15 kW, never really worked, and that they did not expect their claim for reimbursement to be successful.
My personal view is that a small wind turbine should not be installed in a built-up area, or within range of a dwelling, or near a pedestrian walkway, workshop, playing field, or anywhere else where blade shrapnel could cause personal injury.
The £55,000 loss was reported in the Daily Telegraph on 6 Oct 2011.
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