Company provides solutions for remote wind farm

2nd October 2020 By: Cameron Mackay - Journalist

Air compressor, pumps and generator rental supplier Rand-Air has supplied a new wind farm project, in the Eastern Cape, with energy solutions for on-site offices.

The supplier provided 12 QLV model lighting towers, and four 60 kVA generators with distribution boards.

“We have been a proud partner since the inception of this wind farm project last November. The farm forms part of a 700 MW wind capacity renewable tender and, when completed and running at full capacity, will generate more than 460 GWh/y of clean electricity,” enthuses Rand-Air KwaZulu-Natal area manager Rudi De Vry.  

He points out that, owing to the remote location of many wind farms in the Eastern Cape, such farms rely on portable power and lighting.

As wind turbines consist of large pieces of equipment, they must be manufactured in separate modules, and then assembled close to the project site, explains De Vry.

This assembly of turbines often takes place at night, when the site is cleared of riggers, and the wind shear factor is lower.

Further, Rand-Air sales consultant Liesel Johnson claims that the lack of defined roads and infrastructure make the terrain on site unpredictable and hazardous at night, such as the presence of venomous snakes in the area.

This makes portable lighting vital for the project, as it allows for working safely on the wind turbines at night.

The turbines are often spaced kilometres apart from one another, making a certain degree of luminosity for the project site essential, as this enables the project client to apply the correct radius of light emissions for the work area.

“We take emissions standards into consideration and on this project, the criterion was 200 lumen for every turbine unit. Rand-Air was, therefore, able to supply light-emitting-diode lighting to meet the required standard, as our light sets not only matched but also exceeded customers’ expectations,” she elaborates.

These light towers use diesel, which Johnson highlights can offer significant savings, as “Rand-Air’s equipment is recognised as being the most fuel-efficient on the market”. This means that clients can run multiple lighting units, as the fuel efficiency keeps the cost of fuel consumption low.

The masts of the lighting towers are also able to withstand strong winds in the area.

Uninterrupted Operations

Rand-Air’s supplying the QAS range of generators has allowed the wind farm’s contractors to continue working throughout the day, without interruptions to energy supply.

This has also enabled the client to operate as productively as possible, and will help the client work towards completing the project within the stipulated timeframe, which has since been extended.

Johnson adds that the generator and lighting towers are all trailer-mounted, which allows for easy movement and set-up on site.

“Manoeuvrability over rough terrain and difficult conditions underfoot make the trailer-mounted equipment ideal for remote areas where wind farms are typically situated. Machines can be positioned where they need to be, without having to wait for a rigging team to assist with the set-up,” she explains.

Rand-Air continues to offer technical support for the wind farm project, which Johnson emphasises has been vital during the national lockdown, owing to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The pandemic and subsequent lockdown have, however, significantly impacted on and delayed the timeline of the overall wind farm project, she adds.

The project is an international supplier, with employees who have only a six-month working visa. This, in addition to the restrictions imposed by the lockdown, such as physical distancing, required the completion date of the project to be extended.

“Rand-Air assisted the project client with the off-hire of the equipment for the lockdown period until Lockdown Level 4 was implemented.”

The wind farm project is expected to be completed later this year.

Johnson adds that involvement in this project has provided Rand-Air with ideal exposure in the local wind energy sector, as it has proved the company’s capability in managing challenging and remote wind energy projects.

See adds that this experience, in addition to the company’s customer-centric focus and high-quality products and services, will assist the company with future projects in the sector. 

“Rand-Air intends to become fully involved in the wind energy sector for short- or long-term equipment rentals. We want to be there to provide support and solutions as this sector grows. We aim to benefit customers and build on the partnerships already being formed,” she concludes.