Light towers banish darkness and snakes at big wind farm build

07 October 2020 | Web Article Number: ME202020811

Construction, Civil & Structural Engineering
Electrical & Electronics
Green Industries & Renewable Energy
Power Generation
Light towers banish darkness and snakes at big wind farm build

RAND-Air is supplying lighting and power for a wind farm project located in a remote, snake-infested part of the Eastern Cape.

The project involves the erection of 46 wind turbines in one of the most inaccessible areas of this traditionally windy province. It forms part of a 700 MW wind capacity renewable tender and - when completed and running at full capacity - will generate more than 460 GWh of clean electricity, annually.

As wind turbines are so immense, they must be manufactured in sections or modules and then assembled close to the project site.

The assembler/erector contractor on the project, responsible for assembling the different components of the massive turbines, generally works at night, when the site is cleared of riggers and the wind shear factor is lower.

“Delivery of these massive turbine components is handled by abnormal load vehicles; and, in the absence of defined roads or any infrastructure, the underfoot terrain on-site is often unpredictable and hazardous,” said Liesel Johnson, Sales Consultant at Rand-Air responsible for this contract.

“In addition, given that the project is in a territory widely known as a snake-infested habitat, this operation required an adequate, reliable, and efficient light source to illuminate the work area.”

Through its Durban branch, Rand-Air supplied 12 QLV lighting towers, as well as portable power for the on-site offices, in the form of four 60 KVA generators, complete with distribution (DB) boards.

“Parts of the Eastern Cape are incredibly remote and inaccessible, and the wind farm project is located approximately a six-hour drive from Durban. Following up on a referral received, the consultation phase was therefore via email and telephonic contact, before the contract was agreed upon and the equipment supplied.”

The safety standard on wind farms is extremely high, and Johnson said that Rand-Air more than complied with all requirements in this regard: “The customer was very impressed that Rand-Air is fully ISO-certified; and also by how seriously we take safety, conducting intense and in-depth safety inductions with the entire turbine assembly crew - and our own Rand-Air technicians. The customer was also very satisfied with our team’s technical qualifications and competency levels.”

Johnson said maintaining a transparent line of communication was instrumental in Rand-Air securing the contract, ensuring the customer was kept updated and informed every step of the way.

“The incredible remoteness of the project entailed really understanding the customer’s challenges and requirements; and I explained that, while we pride ourselves on the value-added service of offering 24/7 technical support, the location of the project and distance from Durban would however mean between 24 and 36 hours’ turnaround time if a technician was required on-site. I also assured the customer that nevertheless, there would be regular checks conducted by a technician and I would also travel to site regularly.”

Johnson believes that a thorough understanding of the customer’s requirements, coupled with her in-depth product knowledge, stood Rand-Air in good stead.

“When we look at lighting, along with operational criteria, we also consider emissions standards, measured in lux, and on this project, the criterion was 200 lux per unit. Rand-Air was able to supply LED lighting to meet the standard, which worked in our favour to be awarded the hire contract.

“My absolute faith and trust our products and technology meant I had no hesitation regarding my equipment recommendations and which products to suggest.”

She added that the solid trust which has developed between Rand-Air and the contractor is also a team effort all-round.

That the hire has been in place since February, and has been extended indefinitely owing to the pandemic, with an unspecified completion date as a result.

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