Accidents spur mandatory wind turbine safety checks in Japan

The Japanese government announced plans to hold periodic safety inspections of wind turbines in response to several recent accidents, as the country's operators were urged to fit lightning protection systems.

Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) established a working committee earlier this week to discuss the safety inspections.

The Japan Wind Power Association (JWPA) has drawn up a list of recommended safety guidelines and plans to cooperate with METI on the inspections.

The organisation — which collects data on turbine-related accidents and runs its own safety-monitoring group, established in 2013 — is urging wind-farm operators throughout Japan to install lightning-detection devices on their turbines.

Japanese renewables developer Eurus Energy said that the blades of a Vestas V90 wind turbine were damaged by lightning on 17 November at its 78MW project in Izumo, Shimane prefecture.

Nobody was injured at the wind farm, which has been generating electricity since April 2009.

Tokyo-based Eurus — which is jointly owned by Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) and Toyota Tsusho — also said three blades were damaged this month on a turbine at its 42.9MW wind farm in Kamaishi, Iwate prefecture.

The Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) MWT-1000A turbine stopped working on 15 November, but Eurus has yet to reveal the nature of the problem.

Nobody was injured at the site, which has been operating since December 2004.

A Vestas V47 turbine blade also broke off and fell onto a power line on 3 November at a 1.98MW wind farm in Wakkanai, northern Hokkaido. Nobody was injured.

Regular safety checks will be an important element of future market growth, a JWPA official tells Recharge.

The JWPA recorded four turbine-related accidents throughout the country in 2013.


NOV 21 2014
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