PHOTOS: The rotor has fallen off a giant wind turbine at an Australian research station in Antarctica

The Managed turbine. Image: Kat Panjari/Australian Antarctic Division.

The giant head of a wind turbine at Australia’s Mawson research station in Antarctica has collapsed.

Nobody was injured. The cause of the accident, which happened in normal gusty conditions, is being investigated.

Expeditioners were safely inside their living quarters at 9pm yesterday when the head fell 30 metres, according to Dr Rob Wooding, General Manager of Support and Operations.

The turbine head narrowly missed a building:

Image: Kat Panjari/Australian Antarctic Division.

“While Mawson can experience regular blizzards, the conditions over the last few days have been moderate, with wind gusts of up to 40 knots,” he says.

“We have a regular maintenance scheduled for all the wind turbines. The cause of the incident is unknown and will be fully investigated.”

The Enercon E30 turbine is 30 metres high and is one of two which started operation in 2003.

The second turbine has been deactivated as a precaution. The station has switched to diesel generators.

The German manufacturer of the turbine, Enercon, is being notified.

Each turbine is capable of producing 300 kW of power. Since installation the wind turbines have produced a combined 17,010 megawatt hours of electricity, saving more than 5 million litres in diesel fuel.

Here’s a general view of the turbines before the head fell off the one in the left foreground:

Mawson research station and the wind turbines. Image: Chris Wilson/Australian Antarctic Division.

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