Heavy transportation and lifting solutions provider ALE is playing a vital role in South Africa’s renewable-energy sector owing to the development of smarter solutions that are mitigating the challenges created by the increasing size and weight of wind turbines and the associated components.
ALE was awarded the contract for the port operations, the transportation to site, the mechanical and electrical erection, as well as the installation, of thity-seven V100 1.8 MW 95 m HH wind turbine generators (WTGs), which started in May 2013 and was completed in November at the Hopefield wind farm, in the Western Cape.
“This was no small undertaking and, owing to the scale, volume of cargo and time constraints, careful planning and scheduling were required,” says ALE sales manager Eugene Yntema.
With the WTG components being grouped per tower, it was imperative that all components were handled, tracked and supplied correctly to ensure a smooth and continuous operation.
The company was responsible for receiving all components at the Port of Saldanha, where they were transported to an intermediate handling area, enabling quick vessel discharge, explains Yntema.
There were three shipments containing blades, towers, nacelles and hubs. From the port, the components were reloaded and transported to the wind farm, located about 60 km from the port.
“We ensured prepopulation of the crane pads, so that tower one could be installed, grouted and cured, ahead of the main erection, using ALE’s LG1750 crane with lattice boom and a 250 t mobile crane. Once tower-section three was complete, the rest of the WTG – tower- section four, and the nacelle, hub and three blades – was installed,” explains Yntema.
Seventy-five people, including those in project management and health and safety, as well as the crew and drivers, worked on the project during its peak, he adds.
Government’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme focuses on substantial private-sector expertise and investment in grid-connected renewable energy in South Africa at competitive prices, while reducing carbon dioxide emissions and creating new jobs in the green energy sector.
Other African countries are considering similar renewable-energy projects, with Yntema noting that there is growth in Africa and the company is making headway into those markets.