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Brazil wind turbine collapse is GE's fourth in Americas this year

US OEM investigating accident at the 216MW Ventos de São Clemente project, brought online in 2016

A 1.7MW GE turbine has collapsed at a wind farm in Brazil, the fourth such incident for the US manufacturer in the Americas in the past five months.

The collapse at the 216MW Ventos de São Clemente wind complex in the northeastern state of Pernambuco, which has been confirmed by GE, comes as the OEM probes three recent turbine collapses in the US — in February, May and July — and after a leading renewables insurer has raised concerns about the possibility of a pattern emerging.

Those three incidents were said to be unrelated, according to the manufacturer.

GE probes third turbine collapse at US wind farms this year

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GE said it has already sent a team of experts to work with the project developer, Echoenergia — which is owned by British venture capital fund Actis — to determine the "root cause" of the accident. The destroyed turbine, a 1.7-103 model, was almost certainly built at the company's factory in Sâo Paulo state.

Although accidents have been seen in Brazil in turbines manufactured by other OEMs, this is the first GE machine reported to have collapsed since the start of Brazil's wind power industry about a decade ago.

A journalist at Caetés News, a local online news service, told Recharge that a blade fell off the turbine during strong winds at around 10.30am on Sunday, which caused the machine to lose stability and then crash to the ground. Wind speeds reportedly topped 100km/h (27m/s) on Sunday — far higher than the usual 8-12m/s winds in the region.

'Third GE wind turbine collapse would be sign something's wrong': insurer

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Brazil's 15GW-plus wind industry has seen very few accidents, partly because the majority of the country’s 7,000 turbines are less than ten years old.

Recent accidents have included fires in old Suzlon machines, due to bad maintenance, and the collapse of eight Impsa turbines in southern Brazil.

GE has the biggest wind turbine fleet in Brazil, with more than 3,000 machines, after acquiring French turbine maker Alstom in 2015.

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