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rotor blade transport by rail. The real pioneers of such transport are the logistics provider SNCF Geodis, the former national railway in France, together with global market leader Vestas. A full year before the FWT transport took place, a train travelled from the German Vestas production site of Lauchhammer to the Danish port of Esbjerg in June 2012, loaded with nine rotor blades. The transport of the 55 m long blades took less than 20 hours to complete. This first rail transport of rotor blades in Europe spared the company the use of nine tractor trailers and 18 escort vehicles. Furthermore, at 72 hours, the convoy would have taken four times longer than the rail transport. “With this innovative approach, we’re not only making an important contribution to reducing energy costs but also to reducing pollution,” says Mette Heileskov Bülow, Vice President of Transport and Logistics at Vestas in a press release. SNCF and Vestas want to continue to improve cargo traffic further between the Danish manufacturer’s production sites. Vestas is doing this, not only with special regard to the environment but also to its funding. “Even at this early stage, we’ve already managed to reduce transport costs by up to 15 %,” says Bülow, following the company’s initial experiences. Enercon logistics way ahead Even though Germany has led the list of wind energy countries for many years and currently has well over 30,000 wind turbines churning out electricity, the Deutsche Bahn subsidiary DB Schenker has so far expressed no interest in this business – at least not publicly. A phone call to DB Schenker confirms this impression: “We have the technology for it but have so far not carried out any contracts for transporting rotor blades,” a Deutsche Bahn spokesman says. Why is this so? The answer is strangely nebulous. Somehow, the people at Deutsche Bahn headquarters do not seem to know for sure. The spokesman can at least point to an increased interest from DB strategists. He also expressed confidence that Deutsche Bahn will enter this market very soon. Meanwhile, the debate over who was first to adopt rail logistics is contentious – or, maybe it is not. After all, the German market leader Enercon has owned the e.g.o.o. rail operator as a 100 % subsidiary, since 2007. That is difficult to top. Enercon is using its subsidiary to develop a logistics concept that is totally unique amongst wind power manufacturers. The company not only owns a railway company but also a ship for transporting large components, such as nacelles and rotor blades. The activities of the Enercon rail company also include long-distance national transport of goods, as well as the parent company’s own semi-finished and finished products. The wind turbine manufacturer wants to continue expansion of the Enercon rail network, and even has its eye on extending beyond national borders. Jörn Iken Wind Edition 41


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