New analysis from specialist renewable energy insurance company GCube Underwriting Ltd reveals the major causes of wind turbine blade failure as part of a strategy for proactive mitigation measures to counter this risk.

With an estimated 700,000 blades in operation globally there are an average of 3800 incidents of blade failure each year, GCube says, noting a failure rate of 1:184.

In particular, the company notes that the impact of blade failures is increasing as wind developers reach more remote locations in the developing world.

Furthermore, downward pressure on reducing the levelized cost of energy has meant reducing manufacturing costs in terms of people, processes and production locations, all of which have played a part in increasing the impact of blade failure.

Although the frequency of such incidents and their severity varies significantly from country to country and by manufacturer, such incidents can cost of the order of $1m each to resolve.

The report, titled: ‘Breaking Blades: Global Trends in Wind Turbine Downtime Events’, identifies the common causes of blade failure – from lightning damage to human error and manufacturing defects – and considers the financial impact of blade failure, which can vary significantly.

Jatin Sharma, Business Development Leader at GCube, explains: “As the wind industry looks to attract secondary investment from the pension and fund management communities, blade failure and the associated business interruption costs – exacerbated by the shift into emerging markets and growing pressure on manufacturers – can be an unwelcome deterrent. Ultimately it’s in the interests of all parties to minimize unscheduled downtime and the frequency and severity of turbine failure.”