Photo Gallery Blowing in the Wind

The German wind turbine industry is booming. But just how safe and reliable are the generators they are producing? Bigger rotors mean greater strains -- and more accidents.
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Short circuits, friction or lightening strikes can cause wind turbines to go up in flames -- like this one in 2004. Fire fighters can often only stand around and watch, their ladders too short to do anything about it.

Foto: DPA
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Wind turbines have to withstand massive amounts of strain -- especially during storms. This one came crashing down in 2002. Recent storms have sent others to their demise.

Foto: DPA
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The tips of rotors often have to withstand wind speeds of up to 250 kilometers per hour. Recent inspections have revealed cracks on a number of wind generators.

Foto: DDP
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Workers put the finishing touches on a wind turbine in March -- 100 meters off the ground. The tremendous height of the wind turbines make them difficult -- and expensive -- to maintain.

Foto: Getty Images
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With wind turbines growing ever taller and rotors ever longer, regular maintenence is more important than ever. Insurance statistics reveal that wind turbines run into problems frequently, despite manufacturer claims that they should function problem-free for 20 years.

Foto: DPA
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The machinery inside a wind turbine is not complex, but it does have to withstand a lot of day-to-day strain. Gearboxes tend to wear out especially often.

Foto: DPA
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The demand for wind turbines in Germany and the world continues to grow. Indeed, the country's capacity for wind power -- if only the wind would blow all the time -- is almost that of nuclear power in Germany.

Foto: AP
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Many, though, worry that collapsing wind turbines could be dangerous. This one, which came down in January, landed dangerously near an Autobahn.

Foto: AP
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Because of worldwide demand, wind farmers sometimes have to wait weeks or months for replacement parts.

Foto: DDP
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