Dedicated fire-protection systems that provide around-the-clock asset protection for wind turbines can prevent costly damage to the giant structures while also minimising the risk of devastating bushfires.
In a nation that has suffered from shocking bushfires in recent decades, all efforts must be made to stop such fires from being sparked in Australia.
This reality brings renewable energy sites such as wind farms into the fire-prevention discussion as even the smallest piece of burning debris that falls to the ground from a turbine can cause immeasurable damage to communities and potentially result in deaths. Likewise, the financial toll from fire damage to wind turbines can run into the millions of dollars and any downtime may cause significant disruptions to power generation.
Although manufacturers take precautions to prevent wind-turbine fires, they still can and do happen. The height and blade speeds of these giant turbines structures can pose unique fire risks, so it is crucial to investigate the best fire-suppression systems for wind farms.
The challenges with asset protection
The International Association for Fire Safety Science has reported in the past that the vast majority of wind-turbine fires result in the total loss of the turbine, or at the very least the turbine experiences severe structural failure. With an increasing proportion of our nation’s renewable energy coming from wind turbines, it is apparent that fire protection is essential to safeguard the expensive turbines, while it is also critical to take measures to stop fires spreading from the turbine to the surrounding countryside.
Given the scale of wind turbines, it is almost impossible to extinguish a turbine fire using manual fire-fighting methods. The presence of highly combustible lubricating oils and liquids in the gearboxes, hydraulic systems and oil pumps further exacerbates any risks. As a result, integrated solutions are the only way to deliver appropriate and around-the-clock fire-safety protections for wind turbines without the need for human intervention. These systems must stop a fire where it breaks out and before it has any chance to take hold.
At the same time, the suppression system has to contend with vibration, dust and debris, while requiring no external electrical source that could fail and put the system out of operation.
Even though there are various options using water-based, carbon dioxide and aerosol-based solutions, the consensus is that clean agents work best because they do not leave residues after discharge, so no clean-up is required.
Global fire-protection success story
One clean-agent solution that has been used successfully around the world is a product from fire-protection company Firetrace that is available throughout Australia via Delta Fire. It is a linear pneumatic, automatic fire-detection and suppression system that comes in a single self-contained package.
The system features a cylinder that contains fire-protection fluid that is stored in containers as a low-vapour pressure fluid. Upon discharge, it turns into a colourless and odourless gas. The agent is dispersed through natural ventilation, leaving no residue to damage-sensitive electrical equipment.
The cylinder is attached to a leak-resistant polymer tubing that can detect heat and flames. The tubing is easily routed around the specific areas within the wind turbine that must be protected. When the tubing is exposed to heat and radiant energy from a fire, it ruptures and instantly targets the source of the fire. Importantly, the system does not need electricity to operate.
With the impact of climate change causing more bushfires while also prompting calls for new energy solutions such as wind farms, there is no room for complacency. A smart fire-suppression system can be a saviour for people and properties.
Fires that destroy wind turbines can spark bushfires, put lives at risk and disrupt power supplies to businesses and the community. Contact Australia’s leading provider of fire-protection systems.