Burning in the wind: Turbine maker in trouble with aging components, fires


Siemens Energy, whose subsidiary Siemens Gamesa is the world’s second-largest wind turbine manufacturer, disclosed significant problems with its wind turbine components, causing its shares to plummet and forcing the company to revise its profit forecast for the year.

On Thursday, the German company announced a “substantial increase in failure rates of wind turbine components” after conducting a thorough review of its operations.”

As a result of the findings, Siemens Energy’s board initiated an extended technical review expected to incur costs exceeding $1.09 billion, far surpassing the initial estimations. The unexpected surge in component failures dealt a severe blow to the company’s financial prospects, leading to a drastic drop of over 37% in Siemens Energy’s shares on Friday.

Siemens Gamesa said earlier this year the outlook for the wind industry remains good, pointing to the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act, which is making massive taxpayer-funded investments in wind energy.

Although fires are relatively rare, the industry and its manufactured high-tech components are relatively new, and more breakdowns may be expected, according to Wind Systems Magazine, which wrote, “Tens of thousands of wind turbines are expected to be installed over the next few years — and with this boost in numbers comes both an increase in expected frequency and greater public scrutiny over wind turbine fires.”

The magazine estimates the number of wind turbines estimated to catch fire per year varies between 1-in-2,000 to 1-in-15,000. As more turbines are installed and existing ones age, the number of fires may increase. Each of these fires could cost as much as $8 million, according to the magazine, quoting insurance writers.

“As most wind-turbine towers exceed 250 feet, they are often out-of-range for ground-based firefighting. Sending a team up to fight the fire presents a significant health and safety risk. Therefore, if no fire suppression system is in place, it will be left to burn out, irreparably damaging the turbine,” the writer points out.

There is also the hazard to those on the ground, as spinning, burning components fall from the sky. Fields and crops can catch fire, and wildfires can spread quickly.

According to Siemens Energy, the magnitude of the component failure problem suggests that it may be occurring in a significant portion of its installed fleet of wind turbines, ranging between 15% and 30%.

The revelations at Siemens have sent shockwaves throughout the renewable energy industry, as Siemens Energy’s wind turbines are widely used globally.

There are currently 70,800 wind turbines across the U.S., according to the U.S. Geological Survey, and Siemens Gamesa has installed more than 10,000 of those wind turbines, totaling approximately 20 gigawatt of installed capacity. In Iowa alone, Siemens Gamesa has erected nearly 1,400 wind turbines for a total of almost 3.5 gigawatt. Since 2005, an average 3,000 turbines have been built in the U.S. each year.

Alaska’s largest wind farm, the Eva Creek Wind Farm operated by Golden Valley Electric Association, has 12 wind turbine generators, developed by manufacturer Goldwind Americas, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Chinese multinational Xinjiang Goldwind Science & Technology Co., Ltd.

During May, the Eva Creek Wind Farm put 5.778,010 kilowatt-hours of power into the electric grid, enough to power 9,630 Interior homes per month (using an average of 600 kWh/month), the association said. May’s capacity factor was 31.6%.

Cook Inlet Region Inc. (CIRI) operates the second-largest wind farm in Alaska on Fire Island in Cook Inlet, where 11 turbines produce about 2% of the annual power generation for Chugach Electric Association, the state’s largest power utility. The original footprint on Fire Island was built with primarily an appropriation from the State of Alaska, and federal money. CIRI’s wind farm is in its 12th year, and the Native corporation has hopes of tripling its wind turbines.

At the time of its construction, there were two bald eagle nests on Fire Island, and the developer, enXco Development Corporation, said the 11-turbine wind farm would not pose any hazard to those nests. Must Read Alaska was not able to determine if those nests remain active on the island, but there are none listed on the State of Alaska bald eagle nest map at this link.


  1. Ya they don’t tell you about the numerous cases of these windmills failing, and the consent revolving change outs all these turbines require, and the millions of tons of toxic waste from the batteries, and motors and blades that don’t last as long as they try to make us all beleive, these things are a totall joke if your balancing what they produce and what they consume on a annual bases, the windmill development just enriched foreign company’s and investors with billions of our tax dollars, with no plans at all for what to do with a never ending boneyards of old parts and especially toxic battery waste , and most of this stuff has no recycle potential and just piles up . Total Fraud and money grab is all that’s become of these projects!

  2. The pursuit of energy generated via wind turbines is analogous to spending $100 to gain $30.
    In other words, a net loss.
    And that is not even considering the long-term implications and costs of dealing with the non-recyclable components, particularly the fiberglass blades. Which can only be made using significant amounts of, you guessed it, petroleum!

    But hey, it is makes the radical leftists feel good and smug in their innumerate ignorance, I guess it’s all worth it.

    • Yes where is peta and the environmentalist going to court to stop this. The snail darter was important why are thousands of birds not protected from the guillotines?

  3. Wind will always blow and water will always churn the hydro plants long after the oil has run out.

    • Oil’s not gonna run out. Neither is natural gas or coal. There is an argument in the oilie world that oil / natural gas is primordial, came with the formation of the planet itself. This is in addition to the recycling machine that is plate tectonics that moves hydrocarbons into the mantle at subduction trenches. Cheers –

      • Oil is not a renewable resource in human time scales. It takes millions of years to form under pressure. To say otherwise is not acknowledging reality.

        • Windmills and solar panels don’t generate ANY highly useful byproducts, like urea, either. The majority of these ‘renewable’ energy sources have very short life spans and what they really generate is unrecyclable waste, during manufacturing and at their of life.

    • LOL, sure your great, great, great, great grand kids will just have to figure out how to run all those turbines and hydro plants without the benefit of petroleum-based materials, which their important components are made of. But hey they will be in tune with nature and who needs heat and internet anyway.

  4. CEA & CIRI “claim” the 11 wind turbines on Fire Island produce ~2% of the annual power generation. I wonder how accurate that percentage is? Can the utilization of those wind turbines be confirmed – validated, by a 3rd Party Auditor? Beings that the wind turbines are easily visible, when is it that one can see the units turning? It seems a little far fetched to me, given the portfolio of power plant capacity of CEA list on their website is … 790MW.
    Something smells fishy here and it’s not a stiff breeze from Ship Creek in August!!!

    • All day long, sir! You can look at EIA report data on the Dept of energy website, the energy regulatory commission report filings, or Chugach’s own quarterly shareholder reports. Production and efficiency are very tightly monitored.

      And no, anyone who works in ak’s electric power industry knows that wind is a boondoggle. It’s a great way to draw grant $$ into a budget, an excellent way to romance your local politicians, and a decent way to impress some rate payers. Efficient? Nope. Effective? Nay. Affordable? Negative. Public utils completely depend on federal grants to install these projects. That tells you it’s not a worthy investment. If it was, voters would be financing it with bonds, and your public util would spend your rate payer dollars on it. Notice that they don’t!

      • And, on every Chugach bill I get, there is a renewable energy charge that I have to pay so Chugach can pay an inflated rate for the wind energy that Fire Island produces. Criminal theft from rate payers to enrich a corporation.

  5. I’ll stand corrected if proven wrong, but I thought it was common knowledge that a wind turbine could never in its operational lifetime, generate an amount of energy equal to what it required to build one, completely debunking the claim of “sustainable energy”? If it wasn’t for federal subsidies, no sensible person, or financial entity, would invest in them? Educate me . . . with provable facts!

    • You’re right about that energy balance. And wrong in a way…

      The problem is the stability. You need constant, stable, adjustable rate electric power to support a public grid. And if you don’t have that, you get black outs and explosions. A generator plant has electronic control modules that respond to minute fluctuations of load demand, and it is able to produce the exact amount of power needed to meet the demand instantaneously.

      If everyone in town cooks a Turkey all at the same time, will the wind blow hard enough to meet that demand? No. This would lead to a blackout.

      If you’re in the middle of a huge wind storm, and your turbine blades are spinning like crazy, is everyone in town going to run home and cook a Turkey? Nope. The burst of unused electricity will blow up a transformer in an incredibly hot and destructive explosion.

      That’s why they need these giant battery banks. The banks store extra power when it’s made by big wind events, and provide more power when demands are up. However, those batteries are a lot like your lithium battery on your phone. Does it work in cold weather? Does it hold a charge reliably for years on end? How much rare earth mineral does it take to make one? Where does the lithium go when you dispose it in your remote native Alaskan village?

      See the problem? All of us in the electric power industry know this is a problem.

      • I have never been apprised of any commercial on grid wind power system that used any batteries of any type. All the Seimens brand wind turbines I have read about are double induction or single induction generators powers by a gearbox driven by the low speed shaft that require a grid to produce any power. The excitation current is supplied by the utility, with switchable capacitance in the nacelle that allow for power factor correction, depending on load. Where do they use a commercial wind generator that uses batteries?

        • Kotzebue Electric for sure. NJUS is another. I believe all the islanded electrical grids in AK have energy storage of some capacity or another together with their wind farms. They also use “dispatch-able boilers” which are heated by an electric heat exchanger often connected to a school or community building, which gives the extra energy some place to go. The many remote wind projects in AK have failed, or mostly failed. But hey, they were, and continue to be, funded by federal grants (and there’s the boon doggle). ACEP is working on making one such project work in Kokhanok. I’m not against the idea of renewable energy by the way. If I recall correctly, the last 25 years or so many new hydro projects have been installed pretty much everywhere hydro can be installed and with enormous success. IMO if federal funds are to be spent on something that will improve Alaska’s energy infrastructure, it’ll be improving the major railbelt inter ties, which will make energy sales (aka “wheeling”) more feasible.

          Btw: my personal experience has almost exclusively been in remote utils. I know the problem with “stability” described above is not the same for interconnected communities with energy sales agreements. The lower 48 being one giant, interconnected grid. There, the fact that wind turbines fail fast and cost a lot is the bottom line of the problem. Wind is not a long term investment. It’s a giant federally-funded boon doggle. The gravity of that fact is almost comical in remote ak.

        • I did not know this before today because I started reading about the projects on ACEP’s website, but apparently there is also a battery system that was incorporated into the utility system for St. Mary’s-Mountain Village intertie. It looks like they determined that Lithium Iron Phosphate batteries were chosen instead of an ultra capacitor. According to their website, the capacitor had an oversized power to energy ratio and the batteries were chosen due to relative low cost. I’m not sure I can explain all that better than what’s on ACEP’s website, but it would enlighten why my circles are always talking about batteries.

  6. Consider for a moment that Fire Island is yours. You’d like to develop it some day and though you can address water and sewer matters on site you can’t reliably address power.

    But then Obama says “sure… taxpayers will subsidize 50% of that cost” and then the state says “sure… we’ll subsidize 25% of that coast” and then Chugach says “WTF! We just spent a ton of cash on an oversized power plant… we don’t want more capacity”

    Then that excess capacity was stuffed down their necks anyway as it’s mandated that utilities must buy power from pretty much anyone that produces it.

    You and other taxpayers paid for native corporation CIRI to bring power to their future development.

    A more interesting story though is of the trackhoe lost during installation. Odd that that doesn’t get talked about much. Spill a quart of hydraulic fluid in the park and there will be hell to pay but toss a giant diesel hoe out in the inlet and there’s nary a peep from anyone.

    • Trouser, Western Alaska has numerous Wind Farms with dozens of wind turbines that have been idled for years. Turns out that the utilities just shutem down because it wasn’t worth the cost of maintenance.
      In all fairness these are older plants, but it is comical to see 10 or more 100′ plus tall structures just waiting to topple over.
      I suppose on the plus side they are not killing Osprey’ and Golden Eagle’s.

  7. Sitting here at my car shop getting a new alternator. CAN’T believe old parts wear out and need replcement.

    • You be more believable if you didn’t drive a car to ride a petroleum made bicycle without a motor. At least we all could see you are trying to live green by using your own hot air peddling around town with a little bike trailer for hauling your groceries. Hahaha

    • I got the joke, Maureen, lol. And I get why lots of people don’t understand the total cost of machinery of any sort. Wind turbines make sense on paper; install the unit and just let the wind blow. But, as you pointed out, any type of machine requires maintenance. And that is the ‘hidden cost’ of the wind stuff. Each calendar year maintenance needs to be performed, whether the unit is used or not. If that maintenance is NOT performed, eventually the unit will require more an more fixes in order to be used at all. If the cost of the maintenance starts to get close to the cost of the unit itself, the unit will no longer be capable of being ‘cost effective’. I.e., it will be abandoned.

      • Paul in the Mat-Su, I think Maureen has a point, however when one builds an Electrical Generation plant one needs it to run consistently as Dee Cee has made clear.
        I submit that the answer is Hydro. Consider Annex Lake above Taku Inlet. In 1914 Bartlett Thane built Annex Lake by tapping the full potential of the Lake by tunneling under its deepest point. A penstock was installed where the tunnel daylighted. The result is 107 years of cheap low maintenance electricity.
        Surely in 2023 we can at least match the efforts made by Thane in 1914?

        • I’m not against wind or solar but wanted to point out that all they’ll ever be is an addition to a grid. If the wind is blowing or the sun is shine on that day, then those units will contribute to the power grid. My ideal power grid would have sources of almost every type, such as coal, nuclear, water, wind, and solar. If there is a problem with one plant the others should be able to fill in.

  8. Idiots. Everyone that’s cheering on this insanity are idiots. One word for plentiful, affordable power: Nuclear. It’s practically waste less now and technology has come leaps and bounds but nooooo, lets just cover the planet with wind turbines and solar panels. Idiots.

    • Agreed. But mention the new ‘n’ word and you’ll get chased by peasants with pitchforks and torches.

      • Not so! Most peasants are okay with nuclear, it’s those “egghead never had a real job professors” and their disciples you need to watch out for. Instead of pitchforks they come after you with lawyers and a social media campaign.

  9. Funny how concern for the environment from most MRAK commenters only comes out when its an article about renewable energy.

    • There is nothing “renewable” about so-called wind energy, cman. Aside of course from the vapid and copious flow of hot air from divorced-from-reality and self-righteous radical leftist virtue (sic) signalers and moralizers such as yourself.

    • Show me a conservative that champions polluted air, fouled waters, or contaminated soil. Also, sources such as wind or solar will NEVER be a primary source of power as they are completely dependent on wind or sunlight which, in turn, are sporadic. They may become a good addition to a grid but never the sole source of power.

  10. These turbine companies, just like the electric bus companies, have little to no competition. All sales are from grants so there is no expectation for life of product, or if it works at all (Juneau’s electric bus). They survive and prosper from taxpayers.

  11. I have never been apprised of any commercial on grid wind power system that used any batteries of any type. All the Seimens brand wind turbines I have read about are double induction or single induction generators powers by a gearbox driven by the low speed shaft that require a grid to produce any power. The excitation current is supplied by the utility, with switchable capacitance in the nacelle that allow for power factor correction, depending on load. Where do they use a commercial wind generator that uses batteries?

  12. Fire Island wind turbines were never meant to make a profit. They are there to give the native corporation that owns the island year round electric power. Electric power flows both ways.

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