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RR968 - Study and development of a methodology for the estimation of the risk and harm to persons from wind turbines

Wind power is becoming an increasingly significant contributor to the UK energy mix and a significant proportion of this is onshore. Onshore wind power generation ranges from large utility scale wind farms, through medium size brownfield type developments, to the small end domestic wind power generation. Although HSE is only a statutory consultee for developments of 50 MW or larger, HSE is often approached for advice on new wind developments at all scales. A number of organisations have previously provided risk assessments for wind power developments, but these are normally bespoke to a particular application.

The work presented in this report has two main components. Firstly, research has been carried out to determine publicly available data for wind turbine failures and failure rates. Data has been drawn from a number of sources, including: HSE incident reports, a trade association, a renewable energy research organisation, web-based literature and published papers. The second component to the work has been to develop a ‘standard’ methodology for the risk assessment of harm to people from wind turbine failures. This methodology produces contours of probability of harm, and fatality by direct and indirect impact of thrown wind turbine blades or blades fragments. The contours produced by the methodology may be assessed as Location Specific Individual Risk when they are combined with the frequency of failure of the wind turbine.

This report and the work it describes were funded by the Health and Safety Executive. Its contents, including any opinions and/or conclusions expressed, are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect HSE policy.

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Updated 2013-03-27