9 September 2013 – The 138 MW Jeffreys Bay wind farm project, one of the largest wind farms under construction in South Africa, has begun erecting sixty wind turbines. With two specialist cranes, working simultaneously, it takes about two to three days, weather dependent, to construct a single turbine.
The wind turbines are 80 m tall to allow for optimum energy production, however, when the one of the blades stand vertically, the turbine’s tip height is 132 m. The heaviest component is the nacelle, which contains the generator and gearbox; and weighs 86 tonnes. The three 49 m 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.
Jeffreys Bay wind farm began transporting wind turbines from the Port of Ngqura to the site during July 2013. 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.
The project is one of the first wind farms arising from the South African government’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPP). The wind farm is expected to start supplying electricity to the national grid by mid-2014.