First turbine installed at Loeriesfontein wind farm in South Africa

Mainstream Renewable Power said that the first of the 61 turbines has been installed at Loeriesfontein wind farm in South Africa.

This is a pivotal point in the construction of the wind farm, with the next major construction milestone being the arrival of the main transformer and the energisation of the substation.

This ZAR3.5 billion wind farm is expected to start supplying electricity to the national grid by end-2017, as part of the third round of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme.

The wind turbines, which are 100m tall to allow for optimum energy production, take a single day to erect, assuming the weather is favourable and the first two section of towers have been erected.

The three 53m blades, made from fibreglass reinforced epoxy, are connected to the rotor at ground level before being lifted to the top of the turbine tower.  This is a complicated lifting exercise, in which one crane raises the assembled rotor whilst another smaller crane and taglines guide the rotor into the correct position.

The heaviest component is the nacelle, which contains the generator and gearbox; and weighs 82.5 tonnes. “The process of constructing the turbines requires two cranes to work simultaneously; the lifting of the massive 108 meter diameter rotor requires great skill and is a really impressive manoeuvre to watch,” said Leo Quinn, Project Manager of Loeriesfontein wind farm.

Siemens Wind Power, along with their sub-contractors, Fairwind and BMS, are responsible for the installation of the wind turbine generators.  The same teams will move onto the turbine lifting for the adjacent, Khobab wind farm, next year. “We are pleased to be working with an experienced crew, who fairly recently managed the lifting for Noupoort wind farm and will later move onto our sister wind farm,” added Quinn.

The site was chosen because of its excellent wind resource, its proximity to national roads for wind turbine transportation, the favourable construction conditions, municipality and local stakeholder support, the straightforward electrical connection into Eskom’s Helios substation approximately 11km south of the site, and studies showed that there would be minimal environmental impact.

When operating at full capacity, the Loeriesfontein wind farm will generate approximately 563,500 MWh of clean renewable energy per year; this is expected to supply electricity to power up to 120 000 South African homes.