Fairhaven Rock Anchored Wind Turbine Foundation-How Safe ?

Posted in the Fairhaven Forum

Bill Carson

Mattapoisett, MA

#1 Mar 18, 2012
How safe is the foundation of the Fairhaven wind turbines? Could they have been built any stronger and safer ? Yes !

A Charlestown wind turbine, installed last October 2011 by the same firm building Fairhaven's turbines, has been shut down for months until engineers can stabilize the ground beneath it.

The Charlestown wind turbine was the first installation for the new inexpensive Chinese Sinovel wind turbines being installed also in Scituate and Fairhaven by the same wind development group. The Charlestown wind turbine base dropped 2 inches below ground level and bolts had to be repaired. It's not known if this turbine will ever be able to return to full service in its current condition.

But while the three projects share common traits, engineers are confident Fairhaven turbines won't encounter the same problems for one main reason: Fairhaven turbines are being built on bedrock. How safe is building on bedrock ? The actual fact is building on bedrock without a cage type foundation is the most inexpensive method to install a commercial wind turbine.

The first choice of GE and Vestas wind companies is the gravity base or the cage type. The cage type is the most common type of wind turbine foundation, the gravity base provides a great deal of stability. The weight of the concrete base and overlying soil prevents the turbine from tipping over. The rock area is blasted away and the concrete foundation is built into the rocks. 
 
The Fairhaven Sinovel turbine is only rock anchored. A rock-anchored foundation utilizes a spread-footing foundation that sits on the surface of the soil but includes anchors that extend down through the bedrock and hold a turbine upright.

 The inexpensive rock foundation type is less expensive than the gravity base and calls for the existence of surface rock formations that can hold anchors in place.

The two Fairhaven wind turbines are being built hundreds of feet from a bike path, homes and a radio antenna.

The permit applications were approved reviewed and issued by the local Fairhaven building inspector.

The commercial wind turbine developer for the two Fairhaven wind turbines actually had two sets of plans approved by the local Fairhaven building inspector at two different dates the latest being November 4,2011.

What does the Fairhaven building inspector know about 300 ton commercial wind turbine foundations ?

Could the turbine foundations been built better to protect the public and address safety concerns near homes and a bike path ?
Sally Reynolds

Mattapoisett, MA

#2 Mar 21, 2012
How safe are the Fairhaven commercial wind turbine foundation installations today? Why did the contractors and selectmen want to keep "low key about the turbine proceedings"?

There are four 1.5 Megawatt Chinese Sinovel turbines being installed by the same developer/contractor in Massachusetts today.

How safe are the installations of the three turbine projects going on in Charlestown, Scituate and Fairhaven?

Four turbines are owned 50% each by Solaya Energy — a division of Lumus Construction — and merchant bank Palmer Capital. The turbines will be installed in Charlestown ,Scituate and two in Fairhaven. These are the most inexpensive turbines that can be purchased today. They are designed for the contractors with a low budget.

The Sinovel 1.5 MW turbine is said to be up to 25% less expensive than GE or Vestas wind turbines

Click on the URL to read about the three installation sites:
http://www.rechargenews.com/energy/wind/artic...

The first turbine installed in Charlestown during October of 2011 has been shut down in January of 2012 and only operates during mild wind speeds. The base of the turbine sank and several nine inch bolts had to be reset. This was the first of the four wind turbine installations. The engineers have been unable to resolve the foundation problems with the Charlestown wind turbine.

Click on URL to read about the ongoing Charlestown problems .
http://www.bostonherald.com/news/regional/vie...

The Scituate wind turbine is built at this time but not in operation.

Engineers say there is nothing to worry about with the foundations of the Fairhaven wind turbines or is there?

Click here to read the don't worry quotes :
http://www.southcoasttoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/...
Charlestown turbine settling won't be an issue for Fairhaven, developer says

Could the contractor for the Fairhaven wind turbines have built a more expensive foundation for the two wind turbines?

The engineer for the Fairhaven wind turbines told the New Bedford Standard Times : "Fairhaven is on bedrock and we're drilling anchors into bedrock," said Shah. "Rock doesn't move."

There appears to be three different methods to anchor wind turbines in bedrock. The Fairhaven method appears to be the most inexpensive.

The best method appears to be to blast a hole and build a gravity type foundation which is more expensive. This is not the case in Fairhaven.

Click here to review the three types of foundations :
http://advanceddevelopmentsite.com/structural...

Here's the bottom line: Are these wind turbine projects being run on an inexpensive budget?

Who is overseeing the safety and quality of these projects?

There was NO public input for the Fairhaven wind turbine project.

Let's be honest the first of four turbines in this project sank! How long before the other shoe drops? Guess what happens when you go "Low Bid"?
Harold Gagnon

Mattapoisett, MA

#3 Apr 11, 2012
http://www.boston.com/business/markets/articl...

AMSC takes suit to China’s top court

Daniel McGhan is the chief executive of AMSC.(Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg News/File 2011)

April 11, 2012

American Superconductor Corp., a U.S. maker of wind-turbine components, filed an appeal with China’s highest court for an intellectual property lawsuit against Sinovel Wind Group Co. The company filed the appeal with China’s Supreme People’s Court today for a case that was dismissed by a provincial high court last week, Devens, Massachusetts-based AMSC said in a statement. AMSC is pursuing four suits in China against Sinovel, seeking more than $1.2 billion in damages.
Paul Shaw

Jamestown, RI

#5 Nov 29, 2013

Fairhaven Massachusetts

http://www.southcoasttoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/...

North turbine down due to "slight" foundation imbalance
November 29, 2013 12:10 PM
FAIRHAVEN — The north turbine is down for maintenance after a routine inspection found its foundation to be slightly off-level.

Each of Fairhaven's turbines are secured into the ground with bedrock anchors that stick through three feet of soil and attach to the turbines' concrete foundations.

Turbine Developer Sumul Shah said the turbine has slightly sunk into that soil area so one side of the foundation is one-fifth of an inch lower than the other.

Though Shah said that mean's the turbine itself is "slightly tilted," he characterized the issue as "really insignificant."

"This is absolutely not a safety issue, or a structural issue or something residents should be worried about," Shah said. "As the owner of a project we hired a company to build everything perfectly to specifications and we are making sure we get what we paid for."

Turbines are supposed to settle into soil in their first two years of operation, Shah said. Because of that, there is an inspection protocol to ensure that they are settling evenly. A November inspection using "very sophisticated tools" found the issue with the north turbine and no issues with the south turbine.

The turbine is expected to remain out of operation for another week so that grout used to steady the machine can have time to dry and strengthen.

The maintenance will be covered by the foundation's warranty, Shah said.

The turbine will be inspected by a special engineer before being turned on again.

— ARIEL WITTENBERG

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