How wind farms handle high winds - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

How wind farms handle high winds

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To help wind turbines function in high wind situation, there are three major safeguards in place at most wind farms in the Panhandle.

At Panhandle Wind, weather conditions are monitored on site and in Houston.

The turbines are also observed by the manufactures, G.E. and Siemens and by engineers at the facility.

Finally, each turbine keeps tabs of its own conditions and is programmed to take preventative measures during inclement weather.

As wind speeds increase, the blades turn or 'pitch' themselves out of the direct current.

This reduces the force on the turbine and torque at the base.

If the wind get above 50 miles an hour, the nacelle turns perpendicular to the wind and the blades stop turning and are positioned to reduce wind resistance.

At this point, the turbine is simply protecting itself until the weather conditions become more favorable.

Without these safeguards, experts said high winds such as the ones on Friday could cost energy companies millions of dollars in damage.

"The faster a wind turbine runs, the more the blades are bent back towards that tower," said Scott Creech the Facility Manager at Panhandle Wind. "If the blades exceed the speeds these turbines are designed to operate at, eventually a blade would go too fast, hit the tower and and cause it to collapse."

Over the past 10 years, the wind industry has increased its safety protocols and these incidents are extremely rare.

Higher winds do not directly correlate to energy production. 

A wind turbine can maximize its output when wind speeds are between 18 and 25 miles an hour.

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