A 63-metre tall wind turbine bent in two at Beinn an Tuirc Windfarm last Thursday.
In what has been described as ‘a catastrophic failure’ of the turbine, the tower section has folded in the middle smashing the blades and nacelle into the hillside. It is thought by those in the industry that this is the first time a turbine tower has ever collapsed in the UK and Vestas Celtic, which manufactures towers at its nearby Kintyre factory and Scottish Power owners of the farm have launched an inquiry to find out what went wrong with the Vestas V47 turbine.
A spokesman for Scottish Power said it was unlikely that the weather conditions would have caused this damage as the machines had been operating in higher wind speeds for the past seven years.
Of the 46 turbines on the site, there are 26 Vestas V47s and the wind farm has been closed as a precaution.
Scottish Power also closed down two other sites at Dunlaw in the Borders and Hare Hill near New Cumnock, which operate the same model of turbines.
Nobody was injured when the turbine collapsed and the layout of the site means there was never any risk of parts of the stricken turbine hitting any of the others.
Scottish Power Renewable Energy’s spokesman said: ‘We can confirm that one of our turbines collapsed on Thursday afternoon. This has never happened before in the UK and we have sent a party of engineers and representatives from Vestas and Scottish Power to the site to try to understand the cause of this.
‘One of the things we will be investigating is whether the blades were moving when it collapsed.
‘Scottish Power are taking this very seriously as it is incredibly rare and there will be an investigation into the cause.’
Parts of the collapsed turbine will now be taken away from the site overlooking the Sound of Gigha for forensic inspection and Scottish Power Renewable Energy hope to have information back as quickly as possible.
Beinn an Tuirc is one of the most productive wind farm sites in the UK and has now been shut off and access to the site has been restricted; a member of The Courier staff was ordered to leave the site by a Scottish Power representative.
On Thursday afternoon, the Meteorological Office weather readings at Machrihanish show that Kintyre had one of the strongest wind levels in the whole of Scotland at 34 mph and gusts up to 55mph with a north westerly direction. This was the highest recorded for this area during the Thursday afternoon but gusts of up to 140 mph have been recorded there in the past.