Vanguard provides a lift for wind energy project

Vanguard provides a lift for wind energy project

A specialist in turnkey heavy lift, transport and plant relocation, Vanguard is providing the craning solution for 20 wind turbine generators (WTGs) at the new Grassridge wind energy facility near Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape.

Vanguard will lift and position the WTGs at an average rate of two per week on the R1,2 billion facility, which can generate up to 60 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy – enough for about 40 000 homes.

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.

“We then lift and position the remaining components of the turbine,” explains Heystek. “These include the nacelle (the housing which covers all the generating components), the generator and drivetrain, hub and the three 55-m turbine blades.”

The drivetrain alone weighs about 60 t, with the combined weight of the nacelle and its contents exceeding 130 t. The considerable size and weight of the nacelle makes it necessary to transport its components separately and to assemble them on site, requiring well-coordinated operation among the service providers.

Chosen for the strength of its winds, the site poses its own challenges for the lifting team. “We carefully monitor the wind speeds and wind gusts,” Heystek says. “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 simply have to wait for calmer conditions before we can continue.”

Vanguard teamed up with the Azari Group, which is the mechanical and electrical installation service provider of the WTGs.

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