Ocean Kinetics - The Engineering Experts

Letters / Immediate Viking moratorium needed

Aaron Priest’s response to the problem of turbines shedding microplastics completely fails to address the real issue.

We agree with Stuart Hill


He seems to be more interested in efficiency and profits than the dangers to health and the environment.

He says: “All SSE’s turbines are inspected and maintained on a regular basis to ensure that the asset integrity is maintained and that the turbines operate safely and at maximum efficiency.” 

In other words: “we need to make sure our investment is protected and provides maximum profit”.

Blade erosion, although kept quiet, is well recognised by the industry, as evidenced by the number of companies offering various ‘Leading Edge Protection’ solutions. The fact that so many different options exist and that so many companies are able to offer them indicates that the problem is big and that it is not solved.

On erosion of the blades Aaron Priest says of SSE’s turbines: Leading Edge Protection (LEP) now fitted as standard and is retrofitted to its existing fleet of turbines, if/when required.” (My emphasis).  

One suspects ‘if/when required’ is determined by financial, rather than health or environmental considerations. The extreme danger of this material should eliminate the word ‘if’.

By their very nature, wind turbines on land are erected on high points, at the top of water catchment areas. They therefore have the possibility to pollute the maximum amount of surface water.

If the figures in the Norwegian report are correct and each turbine sheds 62kg of microplastics per year, the Viking Energy project will contaminate [potentially] 63.86 trillion litres of water per year if the blades have no leading edge protection.

Assuming that Leading Edge Protection is able to reduce that figure to what seems to be the optimistic 150g per turbine claimed by the wind industry, the project will ‘only’ contaminate [potentially] 154.5 billion litres of surface water per year.

Let’s assume that the turbines don’t turn and only lose 1 gram per turbine due to the weather, just standing still. Even at that miniscule rate of erosion, the 103 turbines would still be responsible for the contamination of over one million litres of water every year. If turning, they will shed 150 times more (according to the industry).

Does that amount of rain even fall on the catchment area – I don’t know, but BPAs are recognised as being extremely harmful and it seems those responsible for the Viking project really don’t care and would rather shut their eyes to the danger while they stuff their pockets.

I have personal experience of BPAs. Twenty years ago, I became sensitive to epoxy resin while building a boat. Even today, contact with the resin or breathing the fumes incapacitates me. My face swells like a balloon, my eyes close and I get rashes and itching over my body. There is no treatment and I just have to wait until it subsides.

Although bad enough, my reaction is comparatively mild – this is very nasty stuff.

Unless the operators and promoters can show that their turbines shed zero microplastics, these turbines are not safe to erect under any circumstances.

Proper consultative procedures were avoided at the start of this project. There must now be an immediate moratorium on the project while the health and environmental issues are resolved.

Imposing a zero microplastics emissions condition will provide actual benefit to the population, even if it does hurt the pocket of those who would take advantage of us.

If this moratorium does not happen, the promoters and developers stand accused of knowingly and wilfully polluting the environment and our drinking water, and placing human and wildlife at risk in the interests of profit.

Stuart Hill