THIS week the first of the giant turbine components destined for Bald Hills Wind Farm will be making their journey by road from the Port of Hastings to the site of the wind farm outside Tarwin Lower.
The construction of access tracks and foundations for the wind turbines is very well advanced, allowing delivery of turbine components to begin.
Installation of the first wind turbines will begin in coming weeks. Eventually there will be 52 turbines, generating sufficient power to meet the electricity needs of up to 62,000 average households. Some turbines could start generating power as early as December 2014, with the whole wind farm expected to be completed and fully operational by the end of June 2015.
Transporting the turbine components, many of which are extremely large, from the Port of Hastings on Western Port to Bald Hills will be a significant logistical exercise. Because of the size of many of the major components, special over-dimensional transport permits are required, and transport movements must occur in the very early hours of the morning so as to minimize the impact on other road users.
“It is a condition of the VicRoads permit that these transport movements are completed in the very early morning and that the loads should be off public roads before 6am,” said the wind farm’s general manager, Matthew Croome.
The main components of each turbine include a lower tower section; middle tower section; upper tower section; nacelle (body of turbine which sits on top of the tower and houses the generator); hub (which attaches to the front of the nacelle and to which the blades are attached); and three blades.
Each of these components, including the blades, must be transported on separate trucks due to their size and weight.
Most of these components are being imported and shipped to Hastings, where they will be transferred to trucks fitted with special purpose trailers and transported to site.
The trucks transporting these loads will follow a route from the Port of Hastings, through Wonthaggi and Tarwin Lower and on to Bald Hills Wind Farm.
“It is intended that trucks will depart Port of Hastings at approximately 2am and arrive at the wind farm site in Tarwin Lower between 5am and 5.45am. Because of the requirement for these loads to be off public roads before 6am, upon arriving at the wind farm site, the trucks will enter and park on site. No unloading of the trucks will commence until 7am,” advised Mr Croome.
Once the components are offloaded at site, the empty trucks and trailers will return along the same route to the Port of Hastings.
The trailers used to transport the various components will vary depending on which component is being transported. It is expected that normally four components will be transported at a time in two convoys of two trucks. Each truck or convoy will be accompanied by escort vehicles, driven by appropriately qualified personnel, which will travel in front of, and behind, the trucks to warn other road users. The escort vehicles will have flashing orange lights and carry signs advising other road users of the over-dimensional load. The trucks will also be fitted with flashing lights and carry signs.
“We ask that drivers follow any directions given by the escort personnel. Passing opportunities will be provided when it is safe to do so,” said Mr Croome.
The longest truck and trailer combination will be that carrying the blades, with an overall length of approximately 52 metres.
The width of the widest load, including trailer width, will be approximately 4.75m.
Due to their size, these trucks generally travel much slower than the posted speed limits, warned Mr Croome. However, he also pointed out that many of the specialised trailers, once empty, are able to be collapsed, thereby reducing their size for the return journey. Empty trucks returning from the wind farm site to the Port of Hastings will not require escort vehicles.
He added: “In some cases where road conditions dictate, the truck may need to drive along the centre line, which will mean that oncoming traffic may need to pull off the road and stop while the trucks pass. The escort vehicles will direct other road users in these cases. At some intersections along the route it may be necessary for the accompanying escort vehicle personnel to temporarily stop traffic to allow the trucks to negotiate the intersections.
“For other road users travelling behind the over dimensional loads, overtaking opportunities may be limited depending on the road conditions. We would be very grateful if drivers in this situation could be patient and follow the directions of the escort vehicle personnel.
“We urge drivers to take care around the load and escort vehicles. There may be some build-up of traffic, especially when the load and escort vehicles have to slow down at intersections and cross bridges and culverts. We ask drivers to follow any directions given by the escort vehicle personnel.
“Bald Hills Wind Farm understands that some road users may experience delays due to these deliveries and we thank drivers in advance for their cooperation and patience during the movement of these loads.”
Delivery of the wind turbine components is expected to be completed by the end of October.
Should people have any queries or concerns regarding the wind turbine component deliveries they can contact Bald Hills Wind Farm on 1800 027 689 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org. There will be an update on progress at the wind farm at a public presentation to South Gippsland Shire Council in Council Chambers, Leongatha, at 2.30pm next Wednesday, May 21. Anyone is welcome to attend.