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29.05.2019 According to the TÜV, wind turbines are "ticking time bombs". Is this statement accurate?

Last year, publications based on a press release from the TÜV Association, Verband der TÜV e.V. (VdTÜV), attracted quite a bit of media attention because they called wind turbines "ticking time bombs" (see VdTÜV press release dated 08.10.2018). In addition, a legal opinion compiled by reuschlaw Legal Consultants, Saarbrücken, which had been commissioned by VdTÜV, asserted that inspections of wind turbines were inadequate and not anchored in law. For this reason, the TÜV Association called upon the German federal government to place wind turbines in the regulatory scope of the Industrial Safety Regulation, which would have meant that all future inspections could only be carried out by TÜV companies.

One thing is certain: Wind turbines are subject to strict requirements regarding the process for placing them on the market and the resulting requirements for audits. The texts of these requirements are defined by certification standards and type tests that are applicable to every wind turbine. The declarations of conformity issued by the manufacturers of wind turbines specify all of the applicable standards. For operators, these are some of the most important documents. These facts evidently escaped the attention of reuschlaw's lawyers.

Experts who work on wind turbines on a daily basis, who regularly contribute to and communicate with the corresponding standards committees and working groups, are having trouble agreeing with the statements made by VdTÜV and the corresponding legal opinion. Even the managing director of the VdTÜV, Dr Joachim Bühler, indirectly acknowledged that people are almost never injured by wind turbines when he said, "Basically, it is just a matter of time before people get hurt in a wind turbine accident" (see press release of the VdTÜV, 08.01.2018) . VdTÜV's statements are based exclusively on accident statistics that the association compiled itself using "online portals and regional newspapers". The Federal Ministry of Economics ruled that the data was not sufficiently reliable and rejected VdTÜV's application as unfounded.

Maybe this initiative by the TÜV Association is not just about safety. These industry agreements by the TÜV companies, which are certainly legally questionable, are intended to influence the amendment of the Product Safety Law in 2022 in order to secure corresponding monopolies.

Wind turbines are at least as safe as other industrial plants. The number of people injured by them is very small, and this form of energy will remain indispensable in the future if we intend to fulfil our climate goals.

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