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  • Wind turbines: Logistic and transport (part I)

    2 Nov 2016
    • Marine surveyor in Spain for project cargo
    • Marine surveyor in Spain for project cargo and breakbulk. AB SURVEYORS - Maritime Services S.L. info@absurveyors.es - +34605565726
    • Marine surveyor in Spain for project cargo and breakbulk. AB SURVEYORS - Maritime Services S.L. info@absurveyors.es - +34605565726
    • Marine surveyor in Spain for project cargo and breakbulk. AB SURVEYORS - Maritime Services S.L. info@absurveyors.es - +34605565726

    Wind turbines: Logistic and transport (part I)

    The history of the wind turbine

    On 200 BC, Persia  already had machines which used the power of the wind for operating pipe organs. But it was not until the seventh Century in “Sistan” (Afganistan) that we know the first mills were used.  It was a vertical axis mill which had 6 or 8 rectangular sails and was made of wood and covered with fabric. They were used to grind corn or draw water.

    In Europe, the first windmills appeared in the twelfth century in France and England, and subsequently distributed across the continent. They consisted of a stone tower, topped by a rotating wooden structure that supported the mill shaft which started from 4 to 12 blades from 3 to 9 meters. Its main use was to grind grain and pump water.

    Marine surveyor in Spain for project cargo and breakbulk. AB SURVEYORS - Maritime Services S.L. info@absurveyors.es - +34605565726

     Blades loading on board operation during a survey.

    During the second half of the nineteenth century,  the popular American multiblade mill appeared, designed to pump water. It was much lighter than their predecessors mills and became the most widespread wind mill. It had a rotor diameter of 3 meters, assembled on a horizontal axis at the top of a metal tower. It had between 18 to 24 blades. The characteristics of this mill established the basis for the design of modern wind turbines.

    In 1887-1888, Charles F. Brush built the first wind turbine, producing power for 12 batteries, 350 filament lamps, two carbon arc lamps and three motors.

    In 1891, Poul la Cour built the first wind turbine producing electricity (up to an electrical power of 25kW).

    In 1957, Johannes Juul built the Gedser turbine which became the model for modern wind turbines. The Gedser wind turbine had a single generator and three rotating airfoil blades. It produced an electric power of 200 kW.

    After the 1973 oil crisis, the first research programs concerning wind energy appeared. This fact made that on the late 70s (early 80s), appeared the first commercial wind turbines, called next generation wind turbines.

    After a major commercial struggle between the different concepts of wind turbines, finally the commercial winner was the concept of three-bladed and horizontal axis wind turbine (called “Danish concept”).

    Currently, the “Danish concept” has been consolidated in the market. But since it first emerged until now, they have suffered considerable technological improvements (increase of rated power, increased efficiency, reduced weight due to the introduction of new materials and new concepts such as variable pitch).

    The power generated by a wind turbine depends largely on the wind speed, but also the area swept by the blades. So the trend is to make higher wind turbines (more height higher wind speed) and longer blades (greater sweep surface of the blades).

    Marine surveyor in Spain for project cargo and breakbulk. AB SURVEYORS - Maritime Services S.L. info@absurveyors.es - +34605565726

    Blades loading on board operation during a survey.

    The world’s largest wind turbine is being constructed in Denmark following the completion of the enormous rotor blades that will power it. Just one of its three blades stretches more than 88.4 m and when complete it will be able to provide power for a small town of more than 10,000 homes. The Adwen AD8-180 will stand on a mast more than 90 metres tall when installed.

    Wind turbine logistics

    In this context, the transport of the various components (nacelle, blades and sections of the tower) has been standardised, but it is still complicated. There are many points to keep in mind when planning transportation from the factory to the final location of the wind turbine.

    The difficulties found when planning transportation are, by one hand,  the geographical dispersion of wind farms and their location (hard to reach places); on the other hand, the wind turbines size and weight.

    The logistics industry, has developed trucks able to carry 65 meters blades, and cranes able to handle 100 tons rotors to more than 100 meters height

    Although  rail and air transport can be used, the main segments of the logistics chain are land and sea transport. It all depends on the technical viability and the solution that best meets to the project costs.

    As for the shore logistics,  the total height of the piece to be transported and the needed route must be considered. The total height of the facility is a determining factor and, of course, twists and angles found during the transportation must also be considered.

    Some manufacturers have their own Transportation Handbook which facilitates transport and makes it safer. These guides indicate how to transport the different components, where are the lashing points, the type and number of lashings (chains, stoppers) and leave no room for improvisations.

    Marine surveyor in Spain for project cargo

    Blade arriving by truck to terminal, before being loaded on board, during a survey.

    The current market trend is to increase the size of the turbines. The transport, especially if the farms are in difficult locations, will be complicated. For this reason, there are new developments and projects to reduce costs such as:

    • Using lighter materials.
    • The design of sectioned blades in several sections for transport.
    • Towers made from prefabricated concrete tiles.
    • Bladeless generators (Vortex bladeless)
    • Floating Wind Turbines

    We share an interesting video about Flying Windmills:

    Some interesting links:

    – Vortex Bladeless 

    – Post in the Dailymail. 

    Marine surveyor in Spain for project cargo and breakbulk. AB SURVEYORS - Maritime Services S.L. info@absurveyors.es - +34605565726

    Photos by: ABSURVEYORS

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