Wind turbines breaking, costing makers billions

Nathan Laine / Bloomberg
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Wind turbines make money when they spin. But when they shake, it can cost billions.

Siemens Energy is struggling to contain the fallout after discovering a main piece on the frame of its wind turbine can move or twist over time, potentially damaging other critical components, according to people familiar with the matter.

Executives and board members are concerned that fixing the problem may far exceed the company’s estimate of more than $1.1 billion, said one of the people, who asked not to be named discussing nonpublic information. The magnitude, which is still being assessed and may involve other issues as well, could determine the viability of a business at the center of Europe’s long-term climate goals and energy security.

The company has said that 15% to 30% of turbines were affected by the flaw. It hasn’t specified the number of faulty machines and likely doesn’t yet know.

In the best-case scenario, the recently disclosed faults will have caused only limited damage to critical components. Though even if that’s the case, scores of turbines that sit hundreds of feet in the air will need to be serviced, a costly endeavor that can only be done with specialized equipment.


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Chuck comes from a lineage of journalism. He has written for some of the webs most popular news sites. He enjoys spending time outdoors, bull riding, and collecting old vinyl records. Roll Tide!