Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm, one of the largest wind farms in South Africa, has announced that the Project has begun erecting the first of its sixty wind turbines. With two specialist cranes, working simultaneously, it will take approximately two to three days, weather dependent, to construct a single turbine. “This is a pivotal point in the construction of this wind farm, which is set to supply enough clean, renewable electricity to power more than 110 000 South African homes each year,” said Mark Pickering, General Manager of Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm.
The wind turbines are 80m tall to allow for optimum energy production, however, when the one of the blades stand vertically, the turbine’s tip height is an impressive 132m. The heaviest component is the nacelle, which contains the generator and gearbox; and weighs a 86 tonnes. The three 49m blades, made from fibreglass reinforced epoxy, are connected to the rotor at ground level before being hoisted to the top of the turbine. This is a complicated lifting exercise, in which the crane raises the assembled rotor whilst the smaller crane guides the rotor into the correct position. “It is remarkable to watch the two cranes working together to lift the rotor, which has a diameter of over 100 meters,” explained Pickering.
Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm began transporting wind turbines from the Port of Ngqura to the site during July. Over 100 loads were transported during the first month and deliveries are on schedule. Loads travel to Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm as single abnormal consignments, with the largest blade deliveries requiring police escort.
In an effort to ease frustrations, commuters are encouraged to register on www.jeffreysbaywindfarm.co.za, to receive a weekly transport schedule. “Our team is committed to safety and is making every effort to minimise traffic disruptions,” said Pickering.
The project is one of the first wind farms arising from the South African Government’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPP). With demand for electricity continuing to grow in South Africa, the introduction of this clean energy will have far reaching benefits for the country’s power sector, economy and people.
The wind farm is expected to start supplying electricity to the national grid by mid-2014. “Not only will the project be able to provide a significant number of homes with clean, renewable energy by harnessing the wind, it will also save millions of litres of water that would otherwise have been consumed in the production of energy,” concluded Pickering.