Researchers Looking Into Causes of Wind Turbine Fires

A group of international researchers led by the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) have teamed up to investigate the causes of wind turbine fires and to determine how to improve fire safety.

Fires in wind turbine, both on land and offshore, have huge human, financial and environmental consequences, DTU said.

In the field of fire safety it is common to refer to two different types of safety measures: active and passive fire protection.

Active fire protection comprises a range of measures designed to spot signs of fire quickly and efficiently, to warn staff and rescue workers, and to activate a fire-extinguishing system, according to DTU.

Passive fire protection refers to achieving safety through design. This involves aspects such as choice of materials, dividing space into compartments and implementing other measures intended to reduce the risk of combustion and to limit the spread of fire.

Both types of safety measures have a key role to play in wind turbine fire safety, DTU said.

At present, however, little research has been done into how fires actually break out—and spread—in wind turbines.

The intention of the new project is to fill this gap in knowledge, and to focus on different methods for both active and passive fire protection with a view to improving fire safety in wind turbines.

“In recent years we have witnessed some extremely serious fires in turbines at various locations in Europe, and in the worst cases they have even cost human lives. Over and above the purely human consequences, these fires have also resulted in financial and environmental costs because fire can easily spread. To guard more efficiently against fire in the future, we need to find out more about how and why fires start— which is precisely what we are looking to do through this research project,” said Anne Dederichs, Associate Professor at DTU Civil Engineering and Senior Research Scientist at SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden, who is participating in the new project to research fire safety in wind turbines.