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Wind Turbine Erection: Generating Interest 

October 4, 2018

According to wind power industry promotional body WindEurope, last year was a record year for wind installations with a total of 539 GW of wind energy being produced globally. WindEurope CEO Giles Dickson said, “Onshore wind is now the cheapest form of new power generation in most of Europe, and offshore wind is not far behind with costs having fallen over 60 percent in three years.” As a result, companies working in the sector are busy, as illustrated by the following examples.


Belgium-headquartered international heavy lift and transportation specialist Sarens was commissioned by Russian wind farm company Vetrotechnika to install three new Enercon E-70 turbines 20 km south of Kaliningrad, Russia. The Sarens team used a Liebherr LTM 1750-9.1, which can work with two hooks for installing hubs with blades. The crane was transported by 12 trucks from Gdansk, Poland – a journey that took three days. It took around 17 hours to assemble the crane, Sarens said.


Installation of the turbines took place in difficult conditions. The temperature was below -18°C with wind speeds above 10 m/s. “Despite severe weather conditions the Sarens team successfully completed the WTG building project in accordance with the client’s cost and timelines,” says Sarens project manager, Suprunets Dmitry.


UK-headquartered heavy lift and transportation specialist ALE is using two tower cranes to handle and install more than 700 wind components for Thai renewables developer Wind Energy Holding on its Thepharak wind farm project in Thailand.


ALE said it was contracted to provide both the craneage and installation of 60 wind turbine generators (WTGs), with their components weighing up to 120 tonnes each and with hub heights of 157 m. According to ALE, it decided to use two of its three new Krøll K1650L tower cranes, which it bought earlier this year, due to their low counterweight, increased visibility, quick assembly functionality, and their ability to work in high winds and with uneven or small hardstands. In addition, ALE is using crawler and mobile cranes to help lift and install the WTG components.


“For this project we are using the most time- and cost-effective method to install WTGs at this hub height,” says ALE project manager Tommy Quik. “By using these compact pedestal cranes, the civil works and costs have been significantly reduced for our client. The crane has lifting capabilities like no other tower crane on the market and we are pleased with the good results in lifting and installation activities on the project so far.”


Sarens has also been busy with wind farm work in Australia. So much so, that at the end of 2017 it purchased two new Liebherr cranes specifically for wind farm work in the country: the LG 1750 SX and LTM 1450-8.1. The 750 tonne lattice boom LG 1750 SX is mounted on an eight-axle truck chassis and is working on the Sapphire wind turbine installation project for wind turbine manufacturer Vestas, while the 450 tonne capacity class LTM 1450-8.1 all terrain is being used on a project for Adelaide-based construction and civil engineering company Catcon.


Heavy lift and transport specialist Mammoet also reports that demand for its services for the Australian wind market is growing. This, it says, is partly as a result of renewable power targets set by the Australian government. According to Mammoet, the size of hub heights, rotor blades, nacelles and tower sections are all growing, which requires larger cranes to carry out installation. As such, Mammoet has added another LG 1750 to its Australian fleet to help meet demand.


Mammoet operations manager Riki McMahon comments, “We are equipped for the future developments and demands of the market with our highly specialised team of professionals, our extensive fleet of main cranes ranging from 300 to 750 tonnes and our experience gained over decades installing wind farms around the world. We are in the best possible position to optimise wind farm construction processes for our Australian customers.”