Locally-based international heavy-lift, specialised transport and plant installation company, Vanguard has been awarded the transport and crane erection contract for the Nojoli Wind Farm near Cookhouse in the Eastern Cape.

The Nojoli project comprises 44 Vestas V100 2 MW wind turbine generators, which have the capacity to generate more than 275GWh per year or enough for 86 000 South African households.

“In recent years we have transported and erected over 160 turbines at wind farms around South Africa,” said project and mechanical engineer Robbie Boshoff.

The company’s contract commenced with discharging the vessel in December 2015 at the Port of Ngqura near Port Elizabeth, and storage at the port.

“The team on this tight-deadline project had an early start to the year, arriving back to discharge a second vessel on 2 January 2016 with further vessels to be discharged throughout the project,” he added.

According to Boshoff, the contract will run until 23 June 2016, and involves not only the discharge and storage at the port, but also specialised transportation of all components to site, about three and a half hours away, followed by the erection of the turbines utilising Vanguard’s GTK1100 crane.

“Among the challenges to be managed on this route to site is a mountain pass with very narrow turns. We will work with the traffic authorities to close off the pass entirely, so that our extendable trailers can safely use the whole road to manoeuvre the blades through the turns,” Boshoff added.

On site, the GTK crane is assisted by a dedicated and specialised team, including two qualified Red Seal riggers, who lead the team to assemble and break down the crane, so that it can be moved and positioned for the next turbine – each process taking around 10 hours.

“Another team pre-populates the handstands with the components in advance to ensure that no delays occur with the main build,” he said.

With every aspect of the job, detailed method and risk assessments are done, including environmental assessments. Once operational, Nojoli Wind Farm’s environmentally-friendly electricity supply will save the atmosphere from more than 251 000 tonnes of carbon dioxide each year, which would have come from coal-powered stations.

The wind farm is being constructed by Enel Green Power, which has about 740 plants operating in 15 countries in Europe, the Americas and Africa; EGP’s total installed capacity is 9,600 MW from a range of sources including wind, solar, hydroelectric, geothermal and biomass.