Analysis of throw distances of detached objects from horizontal-axis wind turbines

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This paper aims at predicting trajectories of the detached fragments from wind turbines, in order to better quantify consequences of wind turbine failures. The trajectories of thrown objects are attained using the solution to equations of motion and rotation, with the external loads and moments obtained using blade element approach. We have extended an earlier work by taking into account dynamic stall and wind variations due to shear, and investigated different scenarios of throw including throw of the entire or a part of blade, as well as throw of accumulated ice on the blade. Trajectories are simulated for modern wind turbines ranging in size from 2 to 20 MW using upscaling laws. Extensive parametric analyses are performed against initial release angle, tip speed ratio, detachment geometry, and blade pitch setting. It is found that, while at tip speeds of about 70 m/s (normal operating conditions), pieces of blade (with weights in the range of approximately 7-16 ton) would be thrown out less than 700 m for the entire range of wind turbines, and turbines operating at the extreme tip speed of 150 m/s may be subject to blade throw of up to 2 km from the turbine. For the ice throw cases, maximum distances of approximately 100 and 600 m are obtained for standstill and normal operating conditions of the wind turbine, respectively, with the ice pieces weighting from 0.4 to 6.5 kg. The simulations can be useful for revision of wind turbine setback standards, especially when combined with risk assessment studies. Copyright © 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
JournalWind Energy
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)151–166
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Wind turbine accidents
  • Blade element theory
  • Blade detachment
  • Ice throw
  • Aerodynamic model
  • HAWT

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