January 16, 2022
Wind Turbine Fire Protection
Humankind is believed to have utilized wind energy since as early as 5,000 BC. Historically, Europeans—notably the Dutch—have been the most well-known for their forward-thinking use of windmills. But before the turn of this century, one would be hard-pressed to find much of anyone (at least in the U.S.) terribly concerned about the subject matter of this article.
It was not until after the oil shortages of the 1970s that significant strides began to be made in regard to alternative energy sources. And it was not until the 1990s and 2000s that the federal government began taking a proactive and aggressive role in promoting renewable energy sources, including wind energy.
The reasons for the upsurge in the use of wind energy—in addition to the simple need for alternative energy sources—perhaps may be obvious, but following are a few of the most significant:
It is a clean fuel source, emitting none of the pollution as do power plants which rely upon the combustion of fossil fuels.
Wind energy is a domestic energy source, generally in abundant supply throughout the globe.
Wind energy is sustainable. As long as wind blows on this Earth, energy can be produced from it.
The demonstrated value of wind energy as a renewable energy source is not in question. But as with most things of benefit, it does not come without a high price tag. A typical commercial Wind Turbine (2-3 MW in power) can cost anywhere from $2.5 to $4 million, and the operation and maintenance of just one can range between $40,000-$50,000 per year.
Clearly, these “beasts” (measuring anywhere from 300 to over 600 feet in total height) need to be protected from damage and/or destruction utilizing informed and proven best practices. The second-leading cause of Wind Turbine accidents is fire, and, fire is one of the most common factors leading to property and even personnel loss in Wind Turbine failures and/or accidents. Therefore, an educated and proactive approach to fire prevention and fire suppression within this renewable energy source is mandatory for all involved.