Lifting turbine blades
Johnson Crane Hire's LG 1750 lattice boom mobile crane

The increasing number of wind energy projects underway in South Africa is opening the market for specialist expertise in lifting turbine blades safely and securely.

There are now a dozen more renewable energy projects underway in South Africa, which together will need the erection of 465 wind turbines during the construction phase of Bid Window 4 of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producers Procurement Programme (REIPPPP).

According to Johnson Renew general manager, Cornelis Grotius, the lifting specialist company has already secured crane services contracts at four wind farm projects, namely Golden Valley in the Eastern Cape, Excelsior in the Western Cape, Kangnas in the Northern Cape and Perdekraal in the Western Cape.

Mobile cranes and detailed engineering

“Add to our considerable experience in the renewable energy sector, is the fact that we now have three 750 ton Liebherr LG 1750 lattice boom mobile cranes, which offer enormous benefits on these projects,” states Grotius.

Grotius also highlights the importance of detailed engineering when planning each lift, and having the specialised skills and fit-for-purpose equipment, to meet the range of challenges when commissioned for lighting turbine blades.

The turbine hubs weigh some 30 tonnes and each of the three blades are up to 15 tonnes.

“With tower sections weighing up to 81 tonnes, the nacelles up to 97 tonnes, and drivetrains about 60 tonnes, it is vital to have the right systems, equipment and expertise to lift safely every time,” he emphasised.

Lifting turbines blades at night

While the weight and size of the componentry is a key focus, so is the wind factor on site. Working in windy areas heightens the need for high-tech modelling and upfront engineering, especially when lifting turbine blades.

“The lifting studies we do for each lift specify the maximum wind speed in which we can operate, and our safety protocol ensures we adhere to these limits,” states Grotius. “However, to get the job done on schedule, we have the flexibility and resources to work through the night if necessary, when wind speeds are lower.”

Johnson Renew was set up in 2015 to focus on renewable energy projects and has worked with various stakeholders to transport, lift and assemble hundreds of wind turbines around South Africa and Namibia.

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