Wind industry exposed to fire risk

A lack of standardisation for risk assessments is leaving the wind industry exposed to fire risk, according to a new report from Firetrace. It says there is a general reluctance among wind industry stakeholders to conduct fire risk assesments due to a number of factors, including an assumption that insurance will cover fire related cost; a lack of resource, owing to the continued impact of COVID-19; and a misunderstanding of the costs of repairing or replacing turbines damaged by fire. Finally, there is no legal requirement for operators to conduct such assessments.

Firetrace says pressure will mount on owners and operators as the cost of replacing an individual turbine damaged by fire is becoming increasingly expensive, with 12-18 months of expected revenue loss and downtime to obtain replacement parts.

In its latest report, it sets out a methodology that wind farm owners and operators can apply to conduct effective fire risk assessments. The report concludes that eight different internal and external stakeholders can benefit from having a copy of an operator’s fire risk assessment. From those responsible for safety, capital expenditure, and negotiating insurance cover, to those in operations teams, external finance providers and the local fire department. It also sets out a checklist for the best practice in conducting fire risk assessments.

Firetrace International’s Angela Krcmar said: “Effective fire risk assessments increase the level of protection for wind farm assets by reducing the risk of wind turbines being damaged or destroyed by fire, potentially reducing insurance costs and boosting the reputation of both the operator and the industry at large.

“But perhaps most significantly, fire risk assessments - conducted at regular intervals - can protect operators’ personnel working on-site and the communities surrounding wind farms.

“Once assessments are complete and all stakeholders consulted, operators can work out the best ways to protect their people, operation, revenue and surrounding communities from fire – perhaps through detection or suppression systems.

“It is for the greater good of the whole wind industry, and the energy transition generally, that fire risk is taken seriously.”

Image courtesy Firetrace

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