Wind turbine FAIL – school left holding the bag for £53,000

It all started when the Gorran School got the bright idea that a wind turbine would solve all their electrical bills while doing some feel good environmentalism. The BBC was ecstatic when they reported on it back in 2008:

A Cornish primary school could soon be almost completely powered by a single wind turbine.

School to create own wind power Friday, 29 February 2008
Wind turbine

The turbine should be up and running by the end of March

Gorran Primary School on the Roseland, has secured more than £50,000 from different agencies to carry out the work on the 15m (49ft) high turbine.

It should be up and running at the end of March at the school made famous by Anne Treneer’s autobiography The Schoolhouse in the Wind.

The head teacher Matthew Oakley says it should save the school £5,000 a year.


And then, reality came crashing down to Earth:

Wind brings down turbine 02/12/2009 The Newquay Voice

THE eco-dream of a village school  turned into a Friday 13th nightmare when high winds destroyed their wind turbine.

Two blades flew off from the 15m tall turbine in Gorran School’s playing field during the bad weather earlier this month. The turbine was part of the school’s £53,000 plan to generate its own electricity,

On the afternoon of Friday, November 13, the school was advised to turn on the brakes to stop the turbine, but the brakes failed, causing two blades to detach in the early hours of Saturday morning.

A concerned parent said: “Thank God it happened when the children were not out on the field. Looking at the size and weight of those rotor blades, I dread to think what would have happened if they had snapped off while they were there.”

This is not the first problem Gorran School have experienced with their wind turbine. Only seven months after it was erected in July 2008 it went on the blink. It was repaired by the manufacturers at the time at no cost to the school, and they were reimbursed for the lost generation while the turbine was not working.


Now today, the company has walked away from the mess according to the Telegraph, and the school has a pile of scrap:

Eco-friendly school left out of pocket after ‘unproven’ wind turbine breaks

An eco-friendly school has been left £55,000 out of pocket after its wind turbine broke – with governors admitting that it was based on “completely unproven technology”.

The company that installed the turbine has gone bust leaving the school with a pile of scrap.

The Gorran School in Cornwall revealed its 15 metre turbine in 2008 which was designed to provide it with free electricity – and sell any surplus power to the National Grid.

The system was seen as a green blueprint for clean, sustainable energy for schools nationwide and received grants from various bodies including the EDF power firm.

But soon after being installed the wind turbine became faulty and after a few months seized up – showering the school’s playing field with debris.

Since then the school has been locked in a battle with suppliers Proven Energy which has now gone into administration leaving the school with little hope of any money being returned – and a pile of scrap in their field.


Having learned nothing in Gorran, they are still at it, from the BBC on August 19th:

19 August 2011 Last updated at 03:31 ET

Wind energy for Gorran community

Turbine being built at Gorran

The turbines at Gorran may be generating power within a matter of weeks

The small community of Gorran in south Cornwall will soon be generating its own energy and exporting surplus to the national grid.

Work to erect two community wind turbines at a cost of £500,000 is well under way.

Community Power Cornwall, a local co-operative, is behind the project.

The organisation has helped the villagers in Gorran to look at its energy needs and developed a renewable energy scheme.

‘Big symbol’

Villager Ella Westland, from Transition Gorran, said clean energy production and low carbon living were “things many villagers have been working towards for a long time”.


Yeah ‘Big Symbol’ alright – of FAIL. Just look at all the FAIL in California.


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Fred from Canuckistan

What’s the old saying about fools & their money parting ways?
Well there is no fool like a greenie fool.
The perfect mark for the AGW con artists and eco-grifters.

R. Shearer

I suspose someone will pay to have the garbage carried away and also perhaps for a hazardous material spill if any of the gear oil leaked.

Pat Frank

Supplier of the downed wind turbine: “Proven Energy.” Perfection in inadvertent irony.

What a shower of “windbags” these people really are. No other idustry would be allowed to erect industrial buildings this tall all over the scenic countryside, riding roughshod over planning regulations. Euro MEP Roger Helmer almost explodes when talking about these turbines, as do many of his Conservative and UKIP colleages in Brussels.
See some videos on the subject of winfarms at the Fraudulent Climate website (see the Audio & Video index). See also this article written by Roger Helmer, when describing a new book by Struan Stevenson MEP, “The Rape of Britain”, about the proliferation of turbines in the UK.

John M

Two blades flew off from the 15m tall turbine in Gorran School’s playing field during the bad weather earlier this month.

No doubt, an extreme weather event caused by CAGW. (You’ve got to learn to read between the lines.)


I can’t help but see the similiarity between the word scrap and crap. “the school has a pile of _____”

Bruce of Newcastle

Last year another primary school in the area had a similar problem. It was killing so many passing sea birds that the head teacher had to come in before school each morning to collect up the carcases so as not to offend the kids sensibilities.
Mr McLeod said he worried about the impact on the birds and his pupils, who got upset when deaths happened during playtimes and lunchtimes. “We’ve tried so hard to be eco-friendly but now we can’t turn it on. We can’t get rid of it either because we bought the turbine we had to apply for grants and the grant from the Department of Energy and Climate Change states that it has to stay on site for five years.”
Hmm, I think I know where the Gorran School can get a replacement turbine cheap.

Richard Sharpe

Who will they sue when the damage happens?

repeal the climate change act
all uk bloggers on wuwt might feel like adding their name to this


But the dam fools want my money to pay for it here in the US…. and Obama is killing coal and oil by fiat through the EPA.. shooting us in the foot for a failing miserably green weenie… stupidity should be painful and were about to find out..


I’ve heard about people who try the same thing expecting different results. But what about people who not only double down, but go in ten times bigger than before expecting different results?

Edward Bancroft

What surprises me is that they are now considering a solar power scheme as a replacement, despite the hard lessons from their mechanically failed wind turbine and its financially failed producer, ‘Proven Energy’.–55-000-wind-turbine-breaks-firm-installed-goes-bust.html?ito=feeds-newsxml
Are we looking at a repeat failure here with the solar scheme? Maybe the only thing that will come out of this is that the school’s pupils will have a better view of the true infeasibility of renewable power, rather than the official line from the educational system.

Greg Cavanagh

quote: “The system was seen as a green blueprint for clean, sustainable energy”
And so it remains.
Its just that what the blueprint describes, is foolish to implement.


Unlike these wind turbines, the world will continue to turn and this spiteful ideology will be consigned to the dustbin of history where it will exist as an example of how, for all our modern cleverness and supposed evolution, the human species is fundamentally no different than it was centuries ago.


Did anyone do any investigation before plunking down the schools cash?
Such as looking at the record of the supplier, apparently nil, based on the article, or at least perhaps getting a performance guarantee for some years.
Based on seeing many wind turbine installations, it is rare that even half of the units are running. Most of the time, it is a few out of the dozens that are built.
So pinning the schools hopes on a single unit of technically fragile equipment is just foolish.
Perhaps it will cause the parents to be a little more skeptical of the school’s dicta in the future.


What’s that old saying about repetition and madness?…… Yeah, well it applies here…;-)

Ken Smith

When I saw the headline I thought of this school wind turbine in South Dakota, down the road from where I live. It’s not exactly about catastrophe like the above story, but it’s interesting to ponder as an educational tool:
“The Andes Central school district participates in the South Dakota Wind for Schools project, which promotes wind energy through project development and education. Andes Central and Charles Mix Electric officials recently dedicated the 60-foot turbine.
“A website records the wireless data, which is transmitted off the turbine to a computer, he said. Twice since its Jan. 13 installation, on Feb. 1 and 14, the turbine has produced 25 kilowatt-hours of electricity in a 24-hour period, he said.
Mueller acknowledged the turbine hasn’t cranked out a huge amount of electricity, averaging around 60 cents’ worth of power daily.
But the lessons learned by the students are worth far more than 60 cents, Mueller said. The project familiarizes students with wind energy and other forms of “green” power, Mueller said.

richard verney

Schools should not be investing money in fashionable energy policies/projects. Such spare money that the school may have should be invested in education, more teachers, smaller class sizes, more books and equipment, updating old infrastructure etc. That said, a useful lesson has been learnt, green technology at its present level will never financially pay for itself and is a waste of valuable resources.

jim benson

In fact this could be a fine opportunity for a realistic education for the kids.
They could all learn the bitter truth about these flimsy ‘green’ projects.
Except I doubt they will.

Leon Brozyna

The cost of cloudy vision. That’s over $81,000 on this side of the pond. Ouch.

Rational Debate

It never ceases to amaze me how willing so many people now seem to be to take advantage of OTHER peoples money. I mean, who’s really going to wind up on the hook for the £55,000+? The article says: “secured more than £55,000 from different agencies to carry out the work.” So, were those private ‘agencies?’ I’d bet government, but maybe just different use of the term over there vs. here across the pond… So who will really wind up paying for the ‘unproven technology,’ the school? or the ‘agencies?’ Which, of course, if agencies means government then this really means all the other taxpayers who would never benefit for a second from the school’s ‘savings.’ And why in the world did they go for ‘unproven technology’ instead of at least some long established company with some history at least of reasonably reliable service and product? (are there any actually with wind?)

Rational Debate

Does anyone happen to know just how far one of these can throw a blade or turbine housing/blades when they blow to peices? I know, it will vary by size, type, etc., but I wonder what the furthest is that’s been calculated as a risk. I can’t help but think of large industrial turbines, such as you’d see at electrical power stations, where turbine ‘missiles’ are a very serious consideration and the facility layout and design has to factor in that possible problem.


When faced with the prospect of losing future monies, by not spending the current monies, what is a taxpayer funded entity to do ?


£53,000 worth of PV solar panels on thr school’s roof would have been a better investment IMO. Wind is too high maintenance, too many moving parts to go wrong.


It won’t be too long before someone gets killed by one of these.

Wayne Delbeke

Ken Smith says:
October 6, 2011 at 5:29 pm
Quick back of the envelope calculation on the school in South Dakota suggests that the school will NEVER even recover the interest on their investment never mind the capital. So if the teacher thinks the kids will learn a lesson about the wind power industry in South Dakota, they should teach the children about Return on Investment. If the kids learn anything, they will run as fast as they can from wind power. 60 cents a day is $219 per year. The school invested $12,000 EXCLUDING donated materials and labour. At 5%, the interest alone is $600 per year and most investors expect a better return on capital.

Rational Debate

reply to: Edward Bancroft says: October 6, 2011 at 5:12 pm

What surprises me is that they are now considering a solar power scheme as a replacement, …

Oh for cryin’ out loud! What was that school or government building a while back that decided to go solar, it was going to be such a huge cost savings, and they wound up unable to heat even a single room much of the time with it? Or they built the thing to be green, maybe a library? I probably shouldn’t even mention it because I can’t recall enough of the details, but someone else here might…. it was pretty striking. Anyhow, I can’t believe after having this turbine demolish itself, that the school would now be seriously thinking of solar. Schools ought to be teaching kids how to learn and how to think critically – instead at least some are acting as prime role models of the exact opposite – sheer idiocy and lack of the most basic due diligence and research. It’s the old tale of “look before you leap.” Only these surely aren’t.

“It was repaired by the manufacturers at the time at no cost to the school, and they were reimbursed for the lost generation while the turbine was not working.”
If it had fallen while the kids were near it, there would have been a different kind of Lost Generation, with no reimbursement possible.

John Silver

The punchline in the Telegraph article:
“The school says it will look at solar panel as an alternative in the future.”

Rational Debate

reply to: Ken Smith says: October 6, 2011 at 5:29 pm

…Mueller acknowledged the turbine hasn’t cranked out a huge amount of electricity, averaging around 60 cents’ worth of power daily.
But the lessons learned by the students are worth far more than 60 cents, Mueller said. The project familiarizes students with wind energy and other forms of “green” power, Mueller said.

And Atlas Shrugs Yet Again


Here is an example of wind turbines producing contrails to put the aviation industry to shame:


Many of the “upper greens” have alot of disposable cash and if something like this happens to them they can just write it off. But unfortunatly they have pushed this agenda on the common person and community and when there is a fail like this people do suffer.


I see that they received £6,530 from the Cornwall Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Partnership towards this investment. How could anyone think that erecting tall concrete and steel towers would enhance the beauty of Cornwall? (or anywhere else for that matter) They should pick up the demolition tab for encouraging such nonsense.

Bill Illis

The Kids will learn the lesson plan for the day.
“Don’t get scammed by eco/wind scams.”


Rational Debate says:
October 6, 2011 at 5:38 pm
“ Does anyone happen to know just how far one of these can throw a blade or turbine housing/blades when they blow to peices? “
Some countries require a 2km separation. This site:
quotes 1300m as the furthest documented throw.

Rational Debate

@u.k.(us) says: October 6, 2011 at 5:40 pm

When faced with the prospect of losing future monies, by not spending the current monies, what is a taxpayer funded entity to do ?

Yep, the “use it or lose it” syndrome. Best if you can even manage to spend a little MORE than your annual budget, because then you can justify a budget that much larger the following year.
Many years ago I worked for a quite large company with many different divisions that made the very transition that governments desperately need to. They made each management level actually justify every bit of their requested budget, promised the managers AND each employee in each division a bonus if they could shave X% off the budget – and also promised that if during the year something occurred that really needed more funding, they’d be able to get it. Said bonuses were large enough to be significant to most people, yet in total, would be a far less than the X% saved.
Management was very leery at first, didn’t believe that if more $$ were needed during the year, they’d really be able to get the funding… so they were awfully hesitant to let annual expenses wind up being less than the previous year. But the carrot was awfully tempting, particularly when your entire work force is itching for it also. Then when they actually were able to get more funds ass needed, when well justified, they starting thinking it might just work and began really trying.
There were also interim goals with benefits possible for major projects, with the bennies going to every employee who contributed tho scaled by both their level and degree of contribution. Things such as if a huge project was brought in under time and on budget – and functioned properly for the next X months, everyone got, say, half a day off work or a day off work.
After just a two or three years, the cost savings was enormous – and the entire company was working more efficiently, being more productive, and getting demonstrably better quality and end results on major projects to top it off. Everyone was happy – and actively looking for better ways to do everything and anything!
That’s the sort of transition that our government desperately needs.

Eric the halibut

It’s irony on irony – “unproven technology” supplied by Proven Energy, and the Cornwall Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Partnership contributes £6,530 to help plant this blight on the landscape. I imagine they’ll chip in some more cash to assist with the cleanup.

Chris Edwards

I used to visit Gerrans, it is a beautiful place, usually windy, often very windy so if anything would work, short of a tide mill (and there is the site of one of those near there too!) there a turbine should, they would have to use those Spanish photo voltic cells that produce usefull power at night as the sun is quite shy in Cornwall.


This proves one thing and that is green energy is more important than children. What consideration did they give to the safety of children when they set up the turbine near a school and it is known that the turbines create a loud noise that would detract from study and the blades can rip off and possibly kill anyone that might be hit by the blades?


From the post;
“advised to turn on the brakes to stop the turbine, BUT THE BRAKES FAILED”
Well isn’t that just special…. How many other technologies had FAILED BRAKES;
Early railroads killed lots of employees before they installed improved air brakes to replace the hand brakes.
Anybody want to drive an older car without Anti-Lock Brakes on a wet or frozen road today ?
Making something GO is fun and mostly useful, but making it STOP is MUCH MORE USEFUL.
Sad about the Headmaster having to remove the dead birds before the young folks showed up each day.
Here in New York State USA we have spent the better part of three decades reestablishing the Bald Eagle population. It is slowly coming back from the days when there were just a few mating pairs in the whole state. And no the decline had nothing to do with DDT, it was because folks SHOT them believing they preyed on their chickens, etc. Eagles reproduce very slowly producing about 1 replacement pair every 5 years or so, thus it takes a decade for a new mating pair to appear.
So what do the “wise” people want to do now ? Well of course they want to fill up Lake Erie and Lake Ontario (two of the Great Lakes which hold about 10% of the world’s fresh water) with windmills.
Luckily the BRAKES have been applied to this plan. Last week the New York State Power Authority (a quasi government agency that operates the Hydro Dams at Niagara Falls NY) announced that they are dropping their plans to install bird shredders in Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. They claim it is because they cannot afford it. But we hope that the reason is because of the blowback from us measly citizens.
We hope the brakes on this plan DO NOT FAIL.
Cheers, Kevin.


Should be a useful lesson to the kids that the bright (or dim) Green future jobs will be in the rewarding windmill repair business.
Take a look at an industry trade journal:


jonjermy wrote;
“It won’t be too long before someone gets killed by one of these.”
This has already happened, many times.
I don’t have the link at this moment, but there is a list of all wind turbine fatalities already out there.
Anybody want to fill in the blank here ?
Mostly maintenance workers falling off the things, but traffic accidents transporting these monstrosities have claimed lives as well. I think there have been fatalities from ice flung from the things and at least one case of a skydiver hitting once. Ouch, bird and human shredders.
And since they are so tall most local fire department have no equipment to fight a fire at the top level. So they have to worry about flaming debris being blown quite a ways away from a failed unit (they usually fail during high winds) igniting other nearby structures.
Also it has been found here that they interfere with BOTH the weather radars and the air traffic control radars producing FALSE signals that can be interpreted as a non-existent big storm, or blocking out the observation of a airplane that might be on a path to intercept another airplane.
They are much more than useless, they are harmful.
Cheers, Kevin.

In related news, parents are petitioning to change to school’s name to Gorram School. [/satire]

Kevin Kilty

The wind turbine on one campus of my ex-employer hasn’t spun a blade since last year at this time. It cost $200,000+ to purchase and erect, and was approved by a Board of Trustees in 2004 or thereabouts, without sufficient information. I now teach engineering econ at another school and use this as an example problem. The students are able to show without any difficulty at all that the turbine, under the most wildly optimistic assumptions, has a benefit cost ratio less than 0.5. It currently stands at 0.00. Can no one think their way through these issues? Is “green energy” dependent on an ignorant public for its implementation?

Frank K.

I think you Brits should demand that the Met Office run their forecast center EXCLUSIVELY on these wind turbines (no coal, no oil, no nukes, no fish-killing hydro).
“Hey Joe, do you know what the weather forecast is for today?”
“Sorry – no forecast – no wind today…maybe tomorrow.”

Rational Debate

@RobWansbeck says: October 6, 2011 at 6:05 pm

…This site: quotes 1300m as the furthest documented throw. Worrying!

Man-Oh-Man!! 1.3km or 0.8 miles – worrying indeed!! I thought it would be a pretty good distance (and god help anything in its path), but no idea it would be that far. Plus, with that being furthest documented, one would have to guess that it’s possible for them to go further in some cases. I sure wouldn’t want to be around one that lets go – or have anyone or anything I cared for in the vicinity.
Thanks so much for the info and the link.


Here is another school teaching our kids to be stupid.
Quotes from article
“The taxpayers of the community will receive the benefits from this project for many years to come.”
then a few sentences below
“The $2.5 million project comes courtesy of federal, state, and local grants. ”
Somehow the school infers that the taxpayers will get a break. Apparently they understand that inevitably it is the taxpayers that PAY supply the money for the grant!

Kevin Kilty

The current administration promoted money to community colleges to no end; and alternative energy is a common theme. At my ex-employer, for instance, our wind-energy tech program got a nearly one million dollar “research” grant from NSF. Now NSF was once a respectable organization that examined research proposals rigorously. This “wind energy” research project proposes to do nothing that is especially useful, and nothing that ought to cost a million; and, is run by retired ex-military maintenance personnel–in other words, no research experience at all.
I thought this was a fluke until we began a CEO search recently and among the applicants there was bragging about a one-million dollar NSF grant here and a couple million there and so forth. NSF has shoveled who knows how much money out the door for “alternative energy”, “wind”, “solar” projects: and I wonder to what end. If NSF has an inspector general this would be a worthy investigation. I simply cannot see how community colleges will produce anything of value from these hundreds of millions of dollars of expenditures.