General Electric: Turbine breaks ‘isolated’

Manufacturer General Electric recently called two wind turbine blade breaks that occurred in East Central Illinois last year an “isolated manufacturing issue,” the News-Gazette reports.

According to the news source, the two blades manufactured by GE collapsed in June and November of last year. The first incident occurred at the Settlers Trail Wind Farm near the town of Sheldon, while the second happened at the California Ridge Wind Farm, located in Champaign and Vermilion counties. Lindsay Theile, a spokeswoman for GE’s Renewable Energy unit, said in a statement that the issue has been addressed, adding that both turbines are currently operational, the News-Gazette reported. 

“After completing an investigation, GE determined that an isolated manufacturing issue was the cause of the two blade fault occurrences. We reviewed the wind farm fleets at both sites to ensure their continued reliability and performance,” Theile explained. “We have addressed the manufacturing issue to prevent this from happening in the future.”

Theile’s comments come as General Electric is facing another turbine issue in the Midwest. According to the Huron Daily Tribune, a piece of a wind turbine blade broke off at Thumb Wind Park in Sigel Township, Michigan last week. At the time of the break, wind conditions were reportedly normal and there was no initial evidence that the blade had been struck by a bird, officials said. The incident is still under investigation, with both GE and DTE Energy on the scene, according to the news source. 

As these turbine flaws have come into focus over the past few years, General Electric is reportedly taking steps to better and more efficiently test wind products. Today’s Energy Solutions reports the company’s Power Conversion business recently signed an agreement to take over a Danish center designed for testing renewable energy technology. The facility, which will reportedly be operational in 2014, will review the functionality and performance of turbines that use the most up-to-date technology, the news source said. 

Smarter testing is becoming an increasingly important issue for manufacturing companies around the world as deadlines are consistently tighter and budgets often very restrictive. Using the most cutting edge testing technology can help companies test their products more thoroughly in less time, which can ultimately lengthen product life and reduce recall potential and warranty costs.