Parts of wind turbines have fallen in strong winds in Northern Norway. The Norwegian government has threatened to close down the wind farm unless improvements are made.
Norway is no stranger to renewable energy. Despite the economic boom of oil and gas, much of the country’s domestic energy use comes from hydropower. Recent years have seen more wind turbines pop up across the country.
But there have been problems. Local opposition has delayed or even stopped many projects. Now, technical problems at a large wind farm in the north of Norway threaten its closure.
Since 2020, at least seven objects from the wind turbines at the Ånstadblåheia wind farm near Sortland have fallen to the ground in strong winds. The Norwegian Directorate of Water and Energy (NVE) is taking the situation seriously.
In fact, NVE has given formal notice that the facility will be closed if it cannot be repaired by 10 October. “We record repeated falling objects from the turbines linked to strong winds. This should not happen,” said NVE section manager Anne Johanne Kråkenes to NRK.
A very windy location
The 14 turbines of Ånstadblåheia wind power plant are located on a hilltop in Sortland municipality, part of the Vesterålen islands.
The northern archipelago is known as a very windy place, so in theory wind turbines are the ideal solution for sustainsble energy.
“The weather and wind in Vesterålen is probably one of the toughest things you can subject such machinery to,” said a power plant spokesperson to NRK.
Under normal operating conditions, Ånstadblåheia produces around 140-150 gigawatt hours of electricity a year. This corresponds to the annual energy consumption of around 7,500 Norwegian households.
An unusual situation
Any wind power plant located on the coast of Northern Norway must be designed to withstand strong winds and harsh weather.
Nevertheless, strong winds and falling ice have caused the cover, panels and other parts to fall to the ground. This presents an onvious danger to local people and animals.
NVE described the situation as “unusual” and something they have not seen at other similar wind power plants. “They have made some improvements. But we note that unwanted incidents still occur,” said Kråkenes.
Technicians are now busy installing new covers at the wind power plant. But its very much the last chance for the wind farm. Many locals wouldn’t be disappointed to see its closure.
Editor of the local newspaper, Morten Berg-Hansen, said many people were skeptical about the wind farm.
“In the last two years it has not been safe to travel on the mountain. Although the facility is now being equipped for the future, and the surrounding area made safe, the reputation is damaged,” he said.