Vanguard puts its weight behind PE wind energy project
Vanguard, the specialist in turnkey heavy lift, transport and plant relocation is providing the craning solution for 20 wind turbine generators (WTG) at the new Grassridge wind energy facility near Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape.
For this, Vanguard will lift and position the Vestas V112, 3.0MW WTG’s at an average rate of two a week on the R1,2 billion facility, which can generate up to 60 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy – enough for about 40,000 homes – from the last quarter of 2014.
Once the base of the turbine tower is secured on its foundation at the wind farm site, Vanguard’s GTK1100 crane and support crane are then positioned to ‘top and tail’ the two top tower sections of each turbine, according to project manager Joost Heystek. With the two top tower sections weighing up to 60 tons and measuring up to 30 metres in length.
“We then lift and position the remaining components of the turbine,” said Heystek. “This includes the nacelle, which is the cover housing for all the generating components - the generator and drive train - hub and the three 55 metre turbine blades.”
The Drive train alone weighs some 60 tonnes, with the combined weight of the nacelle and its contents exceeding 130 tonnes. The considerable size and weight of the nacelle makes it necessary to transport its components separately and to assemble them on site, making for a demanding and well-coordinated operation among the service providers.
Being chosen for the strength of its winds, the site posed its own challenges for the lifting team. “We carefully monitor the wind speeds and wind gusts,” he said. “Different components are more aerodynamic than others, so they have differing maximum wind speeds in which they can be safely lifted and positioned. On occasion we must simply wait for calmer conditions before we can continue.”
Deployment of highly experienced personnel, combined with specialised equipment, ensures that the project has proceeded quickly and efficiently.
Vanguard teamed up with Azari Group, who are the mechanical and electrical installation service providers of the WTG’s.
Developing the project is InnoWind, a local wind energy developer owned by EDF Energies Nouvelles; project ownership is shared with the Industrial Development Corporation and the Grassridge Winds of Change Community Trust, a local development trust for the Motherwell community. The project’s commercial operation is expected to continue for the next 20 years. Grassridge wind farm is part of the Department of Energy’s renewable energy independent power producer procurement programme (REIPPPP).
Vanguard has been involved in a number of wind farms over the past year, including the Sere Wind Farm near Vredendal on the Western Cape coast, Nobelsfontein in the Northern Cape, and Metrowinds Van Staden Wind Farm in the Eastern Cape. The latter – where Vanguard transported and erected nine 3 MW wind turbines – will be the first to come online out of the eight wind-energy projects authorised in the first round of the REIPPPP.