Deputy MD, Paul Hopton, outlines the additional considerations in a wind turbine environment and highlights the potential consequences of arc flash incidents.

Wind Turbines

There have been a number of arc flash incidents and accidents reported on wind turbines. The arc flash hazards are similar for wind turbines as for other types of electrical installation. There are however some other things to consider with a wind turbine application:

  • Wind turbines are often in remote locations, potentially making emergency response more difficult and slower e.g. offshore; on higher ground; away from centres of population
  • Access and egress can be difficult due to the space restrictions within the turbine as well as the height of the turbine
  • A fire can be started by an arc flash event, escape from any fire can be more difficult due to the access and egress difficulties
  • Incident energy levels can be relatively high due to the high fault levels associated with the connection of the wind farm to the extra high voltage network

What about the Arc Flash hazard?

Looking at the incidents and accidents above, arc flash hazard and fires due to electrical faults are happening on Wind Turbines.

Here at Electrical Safety UK, we have carried out Arc Flash studies on a number of Wind Farms.

Does a typical wind farm installation differ much from other industrial type installations?

In general, the high voltage (HV) network that the wind turbines are connected to have incident energy levels well above 8 cal/cm2. The main reason for this is that the power distribution network that wind farm is connected to, can supply a significant amount of arc fault current into an arc flash event on the HV network. We find a similar effect with conventional power stations that tend to have elevated levels of incident energy due to the fault levels available from their grid connection as well as their generators.  Interestingly, the contribution to fault levels from the wind turbines themselves is limited, as there is a solid-state conversion between the generator and the rest of the network.

If you would like more information or help in carrying out an Arc Flash Study, why not get in touch with us, using the form below? There is no charge for our initial pre-assessment visit.

We would be happy to come and see you to discuss your requirements and, if required, provide you with a fixed price proposal for an Arc Flash study.

Learn more: