BERLIN, Oct. 8 (Xinhua) -- The German Association of Technical Inspection Agencies (VdTUEV) called for more comprehensive requirements for the inspection of wind-powered energy plants in Germany on Monday.
According to the VdTUEV, wind-powered plants built before 2004 were constructed in accordance with technical inspection guidelines from 1993, which do not require periodic or standardized inspections.
"For about half of all wind turbines in Germany, operating companies do not have to have safety tests carried out by independent institutions according to standardized criteria," said Joachim Buehler, chairman of VdTUEV.
Wind-powered energy plants constructed after 2004 on the other hand are required to be inspected every two years in accordance with the current standards. However, operators can extend this period to four years if they maintain the plant regularly.
"In practice, this means that the safety of the newer wind turbines is checked by an independent institution only every four years," said Buehler. This interval would be too long, VdTUEV states. In addition, there were no specifications regarding the competence and independence of the experts that run the tests.
According to calculations by the VdTUEV, around 50 serious cases of damaged wind turbines occur every year in Germany. These include for example fires, collapsing plants as well as rotor-blades falling off. Such accidents would be a safety risk for humans and the environment, especially since wind farms were increasingly built close to roads and settlements, stated Buehler.
"Renewable energies are our future. It is therefore even more important now to make wind turbines safer with regular inspections in order to better protect people and to maintain acceptance for renewable energy sources," emphasized Buehler.
In the most recent incident at the end of September, a part of a rotor blade of a wind turbine near the Bavarian city of Bamberg collapsed and fell onto a field during a windstorm.
"Basically, it is only a matter of time before people are harmed in a wind turbine accident," emphasized the chairman of VdTUEV Buehler.
Currently, there are almost 30,000 wind turbines in Germany contributing a total of 16.3 percent to the entire German electricity supply mix in 2017. Wind energy is the second largest source of energy in Germany after brown coal.
The TUEV Association demands that the German government includes wind turbines in the regulatory scope of the ordinance on industrial safety. This would specify, for example, how often a wind turbine has to be inspected, which qualifications inspectors must meet and what inspectors have to examine in detail during the inspections. In addition, inspectors could be obliged to share their findings from tests.
"This practice has proven itself in safety-critical plants for more than 150 years," added Buhler.