Grindrod subsidiary, Vanguard, completes erection of first wind-energy farm

Vanguard has successfully completed the erection of nine 3 megawatt (MW) wind turbines in a R550-million wind farm project in the Eastern Cape. Called the Metrowind Van Stadens wind farm, the project will be the first to come online out of eight wind-energy Independent Power Producers (IPPs) authorised in the first round of the Department of Energy’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producers Procurement Programme (REIPPPP) in December 2011.

The project involved the discharge and storage, as well as the transport of nine nacelles, 27 blades and nine towers from the Port of Ngqura to the wind-farm site 57 km away, and in addition the mechanical and electrical installation of the turbines at the site. Said Bryan Hodgkinson, Managing Director Vanguard, “We invested a lot in the planning of this project. The blades needed to be transported on a 64-metre long truck and trailer, and had to be rotated to the optimal angle so that they could fit under the bridges along the route. And we had to find and use a less congested route for the nacelles which each weighed 120 tonnes.

“Due to the abnormalities of the loads as well as restrictions on the routes, Vanguard used its  specialised fleet of heavy-capacity multi-axle trailers. In addition, specially imported tower clamp attachments which lower the overall height of the load, were used to transport the 4,7-metre-diameter tower sections along routes which would not have been possible with standard trailers.”

Due to the lack of suitable cranes in South Africa, Vanguard had to secure a crane from Europe to lift the 120-tonne nacelles to a height of 90 metres. In spite of weather challenges, Vanguard achieved its goal: erecting one complete turbine per week. Electrical installation is under way, and the wind farm is due to start generating power by February 2014.

Said Hodgkinson “The erection and installation teams as well as management were faced with numerous obstacles. These were overcome by our determination to prove that a fully South African owned company was more than capable of producing the high quality of workmanship required on a project without compromising safety and remaining within budget and time constraints.

“The successful completion of this project makes Vanguard the only South African owned company, with fully licenced and registered equipment, and expertise, which can offer a full turnkey project solution to the growing wind-energy market.”

Vanguard is 50% owned by Grindrod Limited, and Basil Read Matomo was the lead engineering, procurement and construction contractor for the project.