Speak to our team
Close this search box.


Generators are at the heart of wind, hydro, geothermal, thermal and nuclear power stations, turning the mechanical energy of the process into electricity to be supplied around into the electricity grids.

The larger generators have a capacity in the region of 1.4 GW (gigawatts, or billion watts).  The stators that sit inside the engine case can be hundreds of tons, and the rotors (the electromagnets inside the stator’s coil) can again be over 100 tons, spinning at 3000 RPM.

The impact of a loss of a generator can be catastrophic; the property damage is likely to be extensive, but the business interruption can be astronomical.  The generator is a piece of equipment without any redundancy and, because of both its size and complexity, power companies will rarely have any spares.  In many cases, damage to either a stator core or a rotor can lead to a downtime of over year, with property damage into the millions of pounds.  Two years of downtime is also not unheard of.

Aside from the business interruption, a failure to a generator carries significant process safety concerns.  Failures can result in hydrogen explosions, flashovers and mechanical parts being ejected from the machines at high speed.

In recent years, there has been an increase in generators being supplied to support the worlds grids, either as synchronous compensators (providing reactive power support) or as rotating stabilisers (inertia support), allowing them to connect more renewable energy as part of the transition to a lower carbon future.

Due to the complex nature of generators, a generator expert needs to have expertise in electrical equipment, mechanical engineering, chemistry, dielectrics, metallurgy, protection systems and best operation and maintenance practices.



Our team of experts have both the expertise and practical experience to impart the best practice guidance in this sector to reduce the risk of failure.

If a failure does occur, Hawkins can assist you in identifying the root cause of the issue and support you in returning the asset to service as quickly as possible.

  • We have decades of experience working as operators of power plants or providing expert advice to operators, from new built, operation, life extension to end of life.
  • Our experts sit on international committees and organisations and keep abreast of any historic or emerging issues.
  • We can advise on international best practice for the operation and maintenance of generators.
  • We can support with analysis of condition monitoring and test results.
  • Our experts are well versed in all areas of generators and electrical rotating machines, from insulation systems, grid interaction, mechanical constraints, design and manufacture.
  • We have experience of all large manufacturers and have worked on both new machines and older generators which can be almost 100 years old.
  • We have a deep understanding of power plant operation and maintenance, from small wind and hydro generators, to gigawatt sized coal and nuclear machines.
  • We support subrogation/recovery efforts.
  • We help you to make decisions regarding where legal responsibilities and liabilities lie.
  • We have provided court reports and given evidence in international court cases.
  • We provide consultancy advice to prevent similar events.
  • We can support the repair and restoration of generators, suggesting repairs and service providers.
Large generator
Generator Stator

Examples of Typical cases

The list below provides a few examples of the types of issues that we can investigate:

If you would like to discuss how we can assist you please fill out our enquiry form or call us for a free consultation. 




On receipt of the enquiry, we discuss with the instructing party what happened, and when it happened and request a suite of data covering the operation and maintenance of the asset during its operating life. This collected data may include video coverage showing the operating conditions in the plant, before and during the event. We may also interview personnel present at the time of the event to get an insight into the timeline of events before, during and after the event.



Following collection of all the data and completion of the consultation, Hawkins engineers will travel to the site or repair shop to inspect the asset.  This will enable us to assess the extent of the damage, and identify the source of the failure. This step can be completed on-site, or may require samples to be removed and examined in one of our laboratories.



On completion of the inspection, a detailed report will be issued summarising the work completed and the findings of the investigation. This can include advice on operational and inspection changes to implement to minimise future events if relevant.


“Thank you for your superb effort in this case.”

Rhys Phillips


“Many thanks for turning out today at such short notice and providing the benefit of your expertise and knowledge. It was evident the Client was extremely relieved that this matter was being investigated expeditiously.”

Chaz Winterton

Crawford & Company

“I just wanted to say thank you for all your help and the information you found was of real insight. Thank you again for all your help.”

Stewart Hargreaves

William Strikes Ltd

“I just wanted to say thank you for all of your hard work preparing the Hawkins report. Please pass on my thanks to the rest of the team. We really appreciate the hours you have all put in and I know the client is pleased with your work.”

Philippa Jones

Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP

Related areas of expertise

Power & Energy

Hawkins' power experts have experience of forensically investigating losses worldwide on a wide range of power generation equipment from traditional thermal and nuclear power plants through to wind, hydro and solar generation as well as emerging technologies such as battery and flywheel installations.

Electrical Engineering

With the prevalence of electrical and electronic devices in the modern world there is considerable scope for failures to occur. These can range from the failure of a single electronic component to failure of multi-megawatt power plants.

Hydro Power

Hydro power generation was the first green renewable energy and battery storage facility. Hawkins forensic investigators have completed numerous investigation into hydro power plant failures.


Geothermal power systems rely on the use of steam/hot water generated by the heat within the Earth’s crust and as such, the working media is significantly more aggressive than conventional steam systems. This results in more issues with corrosion and scale formation which affects the availability and utilisation of the power generation asset or heat exchanger unit.

Related Insights

The subject of high-speed balancing generator rotors can be contentious, and the practice varies across the world. In Europe, with relatively easy access to high-speed test facilities, the default position is generally to carry out the testing. However, in Southeast Asia, Africa and South America, where there are fewer (if any) facilities, a risk-based approach is taken more often; this approach does not include high-speed testing
The process of turning mechanical energy into electrical power is pretty fascinating. You may remember turning a magnet near a coil and seeing a light bulb illuminate at school? In practice, power generation in the real world is fairly similar; an electromagnet is spun by a turbine (through wind, water, steam or a combustion engine) and power is produced. In practice, this electro-magnet may be over 100 tonnes, spinning at 3000 times a minute within a stationary coil weighing hundreds of tonnes. The largest generators being manufactured at the moment are rated in excess of 1.5 GW (gigawatts, or billion watts – enough to power three million UK homes). Whether being driven by wind, water steam or gas turbines, all generators are made of the same parts.
The power generation market is complex and frequently changing. There is a wide variety of generating assets ranging from very traditional (steam turbines powered by burning coal), similar turbines powered by nuclear reactors, gas turbines that directly drive generators and may also provide their waste heat to boilers (to drive a steam turbine), reciprocating (piston) engines, hydro turbines, through to more recent (and immature) technologies such as wind turbines and solar (usually in the form of photovoltaics, known as ‘PV’ or ‘solar panels’).