Western Cape motorists should prepare themselves for major disruptions during the next few years as massive loads consisting of wind turbine components are transported by road from harbours to wind-generating sites, many of them along the West Coast.
Preparation work on the roads will include the “significant” restructuring of some intersections, along with the temporary removal of signs and fencing to accommodate the extremely long and heavy loads, the Windaba 2011 wind energy conference at the Cape Town International Convention Centre heard yesterday.
Engineer Sisa James, of the GreenCape Initiative, a non-profit, co-operative venture to promote sustainable development in the province, said that about 1 850 megawatts of wind energy were expected to be procured by 2015, during the first round of the government’s programme to buy renewable energy from independent power producers. Bids from producers must be submitted by November 4, with the preferred bidders scheduled to be announced three weeks later. The first turbines are expected to be operational by June 2014.
James said they had estimated that generating this amount of power would require about 925 wind turbines, which translated logistically into 6 475 “abnormal loads” over a two-year period, or about 13 abnormal loads every day.
“They will be constantly on our roads for the next two years,” he predicted.
Although some wind energy projects would be built in the Eastern and Northern Cape, most would be in the Western Cape, along the West Coast.
Many people asked why the giant wind turbine components could not be transported by rail, but James said that this would require “significant” investment in new equipment and infrastructure.
“The honest answer is that we’ve spoken quite a lot to Transnet and they still don’t have the picture.” He explained that the abnormal loads would include the three 45m blades per turbine, which would create a significant length problem for hauliers.
The 3.5m x 28m towers would create a height problem for passing under bridges.
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