Virtual route survey
Chile’s Energy Route 2018–2022 is an initiative that hopes to bring together stakeholders in the renewable industry. Following its announcement, Spain’s Acciona was contracted to build four new renewable energy projects in Chile, adding 400 megawatts (MW) across two solar farms and two wind farms. Acciona chose ALE to transport wind turbine components across country.
The challenge ALE faced was navigating the route from the port to the wind farm site. The sheer size, weight and volume of components meant that the route had to be carefully planned. To solve this, ALE surveyed the route using manual measurements as well as topographical and software simulations using AUTOCAD and AUTOTURN to evaluate tight bends.
San Gabriel wind farm – the final destination – is located in the municipality of Renaico in the region of La Araucanía. ALE was tasked with unloading the components from ships arriving into Lirquén Port near the city of Concepcion. After receiving the components, they had to be transported some 230km near to the town of Renaico.
To transport the blades in particular, ALE made adjustments to the route, such as cutting into part of a mountain to achieve the necessary turn radius and also temporarily shutting down a hydropower station to relocate the transmission line. These subcontracting works were coordinated by ALE, in order to make all the upgrades to the route in the time-scale necessary to achieve the schedule of the project.
Each wind turbine was made of concrete segments, as well as a nacelle, which houses the generator; a hub, to which the blades are attached; and the blades themselves. In total, there were 976 components. Each nacelle weighed 105t and each blade weighed 18t with a length of 65m, making the components difficult to transport on conventional trailers and under standard bridge heights.
The equipment ALE used ranged from 24 axle lines, three blade trailers, two low boys and five expandable trailers to accommodate the tower sections. ALE worked with local authorities to obtain all relevant permits.
ALE was able to turnaround the project within three months of being appointed. This was made possible thanks to ALE’s experience of delivering parts to the most remote locations around the world. Not only does this improve the cost per kWh of transporting components, it is vital to getting renewable energy projects up and running.
Once completed, San Gabriel will be home to 61 wind turbines, adding 183MW of renewable energy to the grid, with an investment of $300m.