A giant turbine disintegrated unexpectedly in Northern Ireland and led to the indeterminate shutdown of a wind farm, its owners have said.
The 100m turbine, one of eight structures on the Screggagh wind farm near Fintona, County Tyrone, suddenly collapsed scattering debris across a wide area of mountainside.
Although no-one was injured when the turbine hit the ground, the wind farm will remain closed until the owners find out the cause of the incident.
According to Doreen Walker, director of operations, officials were “working closely” with turbine supplier Nordex UK to determine why the incident occurred. It is understood the rotor blades spun out of control despite normal weather conditions at the time of the collapse with “medium” wind speeds measuring about 10 or 12 metres per second.
"It will remain shut down until Nordex UK Ltd has completed a full investigation into the remaining seven wind turbines and confirms that they are safe to operate."
Some witnesses described the crash as an explosion that could be heard up to seven miles away, while other accounts claimed to have heard the sound of grinding metal throughout the day.
"There were fortunately no injuries and no personnel on site at the time,” added Walker.
"All of the debris from the collapsed wind turbine was contained within the wind farm site. No debris went on to the public road or neighbouring/adjoining land holdings."
The Screggagh wind farm, worth £26m, opened in March 2011 and is made up of eight Nordex N80 2500kw turbines valued at £2m each. The development produces about 50,000,000kw hours a year, the renewable energy equivalent required to power almost 11,972 homes annually.