Aljezur wind farm fire shines further light on ‘security failings’

Wind farms and their ‘huge security failings’ are back in the public eye in the Algarve this week after a turbine caught fire in Espinhaço de Cão, outside Aljezur, on Saturday, sending ‘incandescent material’ falling to the ground over a radius of 80m.

Fire chief Mário Costa has admitted that if this incident had happened in the summer, his station would have had a “much more complicated forest fire” on its hands.

As it was, firefighters were able to establish a perimeter around the damaged turbine and keep outbreaks from spreading.

But as with previous incidents, neither the owners or management company maintaining the ‘park’ were in evidence – and locals particularly are aware of the security issues these wind farms present.

In 2015 when two maintenance workers were seriously injured in an explosion during routine maintenance at a wind park in the neighbouring borough of Vila do Bispo, fire chief José Pedro stressed what he called “huge security failings” in the way these parks are managed (click here).

“These parks appear to be in the hands of a web of intermediaries – all of them presumably making money, but no one apparently accountable”, he told us.

“As fire chief in Vila do Bispo, I have no numbers to call – no contacts in the event of an emergency. Last year, we had a fire 100 metres high in a turbine rotor. Nobody in charge of the park turned up. In the end, it was the kind of emergency that you just have to leave to burn out on its own. We established a perimeter around the area. Put out the fire that debris caused when it fell to the ground – but throughout the incident, no one “responsible” was in touch with us”.

Add to this kind of issue the fact that turbines start to become ‘obsolete’ after a decade in use – which those in Espinhaço de Cão have already surpassed – and then the potential dangers posed by these massive ‘aerogenerators’ becomes even clearer.

For now, the Resident has tried to contact the management company of the ‘farm’ that runs 21 turbines on the hills behind Alfambras, and hopes to be able to update this story within the next few days.

The burnt-out wreckage of the turbine is clearly visible from the main road and GNR police tape remains blocking access.