Wind turbines are expensive and highly technical machines. In order to be financially viable, these machines must operate for a number of years without interruption. The last thing an operator wants to happen is a fire of any size breaking out that would put the turbine out of action. In January this year a fire broke out at Knabs Ridge onshore wind farm near Harrogate; although no one was injured in the incident the local fire brigade were needed to extinguish the fire.  Pictures taken after the incident show the nacelle completely burnt out.

A study conducted by Imperial College in 2014 concluded that wind turbines might catch on fire ten times more often than is publicly reported. Turbines are prone to catching on fire due to their design, which places extremely flammable materials such as hydraulic oil and plastic in close proximity to machinery and electrical wires which can ignite a fire if they overheat or are faulty. The study found the main causes of fires are lightning strikes, electrical faults, mechanical failure and errors with maintenance.

Fire damage can be limited or even prevented by installing an automatic fire suppression system in the nacelle and base of the turbine that would rapidly suppress a fire at the point where it started preventing expensive unnecessary damage.  However traditional total flooding fire suppression systems may not always be suitable for the remote and ventilated risks that wind turbines create.  A better solution is to install a targeted system that uses pneumatics in preference to electronics. This removes the need for any separate backups using batteries or alternative power supplies and helps to make the system autonomous, robust and reliable. 

Firetrace manufacture a range of systems that are suitable for the protection of key identified risks such as Transformers, braking systems & electrical enclosures.

The systems utilise Novec 1230 which is non-conductive, non-toxic and environmentally friendly. As the agent is deployed in limited quantities onto defined areas, it poses no hazard to personnel.

The system has successfully extinguished thermal incidents in a number of turbines in both the UK and USA.