Safety of German Offshore Windparks Questioned After Major Incident

The first German offshore wind farm `Alpha Ventus´, located 45 km off the coast of the German island of Borkum, has been considerably damaged. At the beginning of April, the main parts of the gondola of one wind turbine broke off and fell 90 meters into the North Sea. The park features 120 structurally identical wind turbines that have been produced by the German manufacturer ADWEN. The reasons for the damage are entirely unclear, but a fierce debate on liability and the safety of offshore wind farms is already on its way in the north of Germany.

The complete falling down of an entire gondola has so far been viewed as ´highly unlikely´ by experts. The damage to `Alpha Ventus` has been the biggest ever reported to an offshore wind farm located in the German seas. According to the regulator, the German Federal Maritime and Hydrography Agency (Bundesamt für Seeschiffahrt und Hydrografie), no saliences were observed during the last on-site inspection of the wind farm two years ago.

There are two other offshore wind farms, `Global Tech 1´ and `Trianel Borkum` that are using structurally identical wind turbines. While those wind farms are still connected to the grid, `Alpha Ventus´ has been removed from the grid as a precautionary measure, according to the operator EWE. 

Although it is not yet clear what caused the damage, the operator of the wind farm EWE already announced its intention to hold the wind turbine manufacturer ADWEN liable.  A spokesperson of EWE explained that an ongoing maintenance contract with ADWEN is in place. More information (German language only) is available here.

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