Wind Energy_Logistics:Make way!

SWE 2014 08

Wind Energy Logistics Make way! For cost and time reasons, FWT Trade decided to transport its rotor blades by rail from China to Kazakhstan. Photos(4): FWT Most wind turbines are still transported by road. This undermines the credibility of wind energy as a environmentally friendly technology. Rail transport is thus gaining in importance. For anyone who spends much time driving the A1 Autobahn in northern Germany it is a familiar sight: gigantic tractor trailers transporting the components of wind turbines. The oversized length of the trucks carrying rotor blades is impressive. Measured by their weight of almost ten tonnes, the expense of transporting the rotor blades seems disproportionately high. However, the weight of the blades is not the challenge, but rather their length. Typical rotor blades today measure from 40 to 65 m long, considerably longer than any other form of transport covered by Germany’s national road traffic regulations. Without a special permit, these transports cannot move an inch. It is not unusual for special transports to be parked at a rest area over the weekend, waiting for a couple of days before they can get going again. This raises the question of whether rail transport might not be less expensive and time consuming. Moreover, it may be possible to use railways for international transports as well. The Fuhrländer successor company, FWT Energy, and its sales arm FWT Trade based in western Germany, put these ideas to the test with an ambitious project. The rotor blades for 22 FWT 2 MW turbines made in China were transported to Kazakhstan by rail. The former Soviet Central Asian republic has been expanding its power supply through the use of the wind energy for years and is doing so with western technology. That means plenty of work for the logisticians because Kazakhstan is thousands of kilometres away from any wind turbine manufacturer. By train is faster It is a very long journey from the Chinese province Jiangsu to the Ekibastuz wind farm in the middle of Kazakhstan. As the crow flies, it is 6,000 km away, but what does that say about the actual distance? Transport by road would run through central China with questionable road conditions. Moreover, the route leads over the Tianshan mountains with mountain passes nearly 4,000 m high. The cargo itself complicates the task. Each rotor blade is 45 m long. In principle, the logisticians can use three different transport modes, truck, ship or train. The decision was based on time and cost, says Markus Ritschel, Head of Logistics at FWT Trade. “After assessing the trade-offs between transport time and costs, we decided to pre-load the rotor blades on trucks and bring them to the transhipment area. We then load them onto the train and take them to Kazakhstan. Once they arrive, they have to be loaded back onto a truck to go the last few kilometres to the construction site.” 38 Sun & Wind Energy 8+9/2014


SWE 2014 08
To see the actual publication please follow the link above