Enefit Green, renewables subsidiary of state electricity generator Eesti Energia, is joining the Rescue Board (Päästeamet) and other partners to rehearse scenarios which would involve carrying out a rescue from a wind turbine, at a height of close to 100 meters.
On- and off-shore wind power is taking off in Estonia, meaning preparedness for such eventualities is essential.
Innar Kaasik, Enefit Green board member responsible for production, says accidents involving wind turbines are rare, but successfully resolving them requires good preparation.
Speaking about Wednesday's drills, Kaasik said: "This is the first ever such training to have taken place in Estonia.
"We will do everything we can to prevent accidents. At the same time, we must be ready to act and support rescuers in every way so that assistance is not delayed. This requires a good flow of information and cooperation, as well as readiness in the form of tools, guidance and ensuring access," Kaasik continued, via an Enefit Green press release.
Rescue Board spokesperson Indrek Agar said: "Rescue work relating to a wind turbine is complicated by the fact that it is a very tall structure, and you have to know precisely how to move inside the mechanism."
Workers climb an interior ladder up a turbine's hollow tower (see photo), to reach the nacelle where most maintenance issues will occur, but this is the only usual means of reaching the ground again.
"So far, we have not had to rescue anyone from a wind turbine, but considering that more and more wind farms are springing up in Estonia, the probability of accidents taking place is rising. The main purpose of the exercise is to be ready for such incidents and to identify any bottlenecks that could hinder rescue operations," Agar went on.
Terje Talv, CEO at the Estonian Wind Power Association (Eesti Tuuleenergia Assotsiatsioon), noted that Estonia will be transforming itself into wind energy-based country over the next decade.
She said: "With the addition of new wind farms both on land and sea, we will be producing an increasingly large share of consumption in an environmentally friendly and affordable way. More wind farms mean that we need to be prepared to respond to potential incidents in the maintenance of wind turbines and to other accidents."
"Strong cooperation with rescuers, ambulance and police as well as testing preparedness, gives us confidence for the future, with its many more wind turbines, but with public safety being still the most important factor," Talv added.
Wednesday's scenario envisaged maintenance workers requiring life-saving help iatn a wind turbine at Aseriaru Wind Farm, Viru-Nigula Municipality, in Lääne-Viru County. Both the Rescue Board and Enefit Green's own team will respond to the rehearsed event.
Rescuers from Jõhvi plus rope-rescue specialists from the Estonian Disaster Relief Team's (EDRT) and urban search and rescue (EST-USAR) are participating in the exercise.
The exercise will not interfere with traffic on public roads, Enefit Green says.
Aseriaru Wind Farm has already been in existence for a decade, and has eight wind turbines with a total capacity of 24 MW.
The of those wind turbines' nacelles, inside which technicians can work when needed, are located at a height of 90m.
Accidents elsewhere in Europe involving wind turbines have happened, in at least one case leading to fatalities after a turbine caught fire.
Editor: Andrew Whyte
Source: Enefit Green