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ACT OF GOD: Investigations into the failure of a wind turbine blade when it was struck by lightning during a storm in the North Sea last week were expected to focus on the lightning conductor. Lightning struck one of three 33m long blades on one of two 2MW turbines 1km off the Northumberland coast at Blyth, shattering it. Investigations will centre on the way the turbine blades are connected to the 29m high mast via a system of cables and rollers.

Operator Amec Wind managing director David Still said that the damage was unavoidable. 'It was an act of God of such force that it could not have reasonably been prevented, ' he said.

Structural engineer and wind farm consultant, Mick Austin, put the strike into perspective.

'Lightning strikes are certainly not uncommon and are a real factor in wind turbine design, ' he said. Strong winds hampered efforts to replace the damaged blade this week. The £100,000 blades will be replaced from a stockpile held by Danish manufacturer Vestas.

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