Wind Turbines Knocked Out

Satellite outage knocks out thousands of Enercon’s wind turbines

28th February, 2022

by Maria Sheahan, Christoph Steitz and Andreas Rinke; Editing by Miranda Murray and Bernadette Baum; Reuters

A views shows an E-66 wind turbine manufactured by German company Enercon in Nibas, Picardie region, July 16, 2014. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
A views shows an E-66 wind turbine manufactured by German company Enercon in Nibas, Picardie region, July 16, 2014. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
Summary
  • Remote control of 5,800 wind turbines knocked out
  • Enercon says disruption coincided with Russian invasion
  • Says working with providers to resolve problem
  • German watchdog BSI says aware of the indicent

BERLIN/FRANKFURT, Feb 28 (Reuters) – Germany’s Enercon on Monday said a “massive disruption” of satellite connections in Europe was affecting the operations of 5,800 wind turbines in central Europe.

It said the satellite connections stopped working on Thursday, knocking out remote monitoring and control of the wind turbines, which have a total capacity of 11 gigawatt (GW).

“The exact cause of the disruption is not yet known. The communication services failed almost simultaneously with the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine,” Enercon said in a statement.

The company said it had no further information on who or what may have caused the disruption.

Enercon has informed Germany’s cybersecurity watchdog BSI and is working with the relevant providers of the satellite communication networks to resolve the disruption, which it said affected around 30,000 satellite terminals used by companies and organisations from various sectors across Europe.

BSI said it was aware that a satellite-based communications operator has experienced a malfunction and that this had restricted the maintenance of some wind turbines, without providing details.

“However, no effects on power grid stability are currently expected due to redundant communication capabilities of the responsible grid operators. Further investigations into the cause are being carried out by the company concerned in close exchange with the responsible authorities,” BSI said.

U.S.-listed satellite communications firm Viasat Inc (VSAT.O) said earlier on Monday it was investigating a suspected cyberattack that caused a partial outage in its residential broadband services in Ukraine and other European countries. 

Enercon is working with the operators of the affected wind farms to set up alternative ways to regain remote control of the turbines, it said, without naming the operators.

There was no risk to the turbines as they continued to operate on “auto mode,” the company said.

German daily Handelsblatt first reported the disruption earlier on Monday.

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