One of Scotland’s most dynamic wind energy companies went into administration last night with the loss of 55 jobs after the catastrophic failure of one of its top-selling turbines.
Proven Energy, of East Kilbride, revealed earlier this week that an “acute” and dangerous defect made its P35-2 turbine unsafe. A faulty braking mechanism could cause its blade to fly off.
The turbine, which costs up to £70,000, had been installed at hundreds of locations around Scotland, and across a network of 60 countries. Last night, the receivers, KPMG, said that the 30-year-old company had been left fatally exposed by the faulty product design.
“Although Proven has achieved substantial turnover growth in recent years, the company has made significant losses as it focused on product development, making it difficult for the business to cope financially with the cost of the product failure,” said Blair Nimmo, head of restructuring for KPMG in Scotland.
Proven Energy was not accepting calls yesterday morning. About 20 staff have been retained to prepare the business for sale. In a statement, the company said that it had become aware of a potential defect, affecting large numbers of turbines.
“Our work to date has now shown that a significant number of shafts may be affected across multiple manufacturing batches,” it said.
About 500 of the P35-2 turbines have been erected in Scotland alone, many of them on farms and smallholdings. According to the company’s publicity material, the turbines contribute “around 17 per cent of global installed capacity in the small wind sector”. It adds: “The nature of Proven Energy wind turbines means that they perform well in all wind speeds and don’t cut out even in the highest winds.” In reality, at the highest wind speeds the blades can fly off because of the braking fault.
News of the product failure was made public on the Stock Exchange on Thursday. The Low Carbon Accelerator (LCA) fund, the biggest single supporter of the turbines, revealed that it had been contacted by Proven about the faulty design. The fund almost immediately withdrew its backing.